The Senate has chosen its conferees to hash out the lobbying and ethics reform bill with the House and none of those selected are key reform advocates, according to Roll Call. The selected Senators are Trent Lott (R-MS), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Ted Stevens (R-AK), Chris Dodd (D-CT), and Daniel Inouye (D-HI). The key reform advocates from the Senate that were left out include the two who helped craft the Senate legislation Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Democratic ethics point man Barack Obama (D-IL) and noted reform advocates like John McCain (R-AZ), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Russ Feingold (D-WI).
It will be interesting to see who the much more conservative House chooses as its conferees. If they select a couple of the more conservative members like Mike Pence (R-IN) or Jeff Flake (R-AZ) this bill could die in conference over earmark reform. Lott, Stevens, and Inouye are noted for their penchant for earmarks. While Lott may be for more transparency in earmarking the House conservatives could aim for more stringent measures than he is ready to adopt. Stevens and Inouye live off of earmarking as their non-continental states rely on federal money directed by their representatives to help build infrastructure, protect agriculture and industry, and help with natural and man-made disasters.
One thing that is sure is that these conferees will not attempt to make the bill any better than it already is.