The Washington Times editorialized in favor of S. 482, the Senate e-filing bill, in today’s paper. Below is a section... View ArticleContinue reading
Knowing we had a great opportunity to corner Sen. Ensign, who’s blocking a bill requiring electronic reporting for senators’ campaign... View ArticleContinue reading
We think the USA Today editorialists have got it right: the new ethics laws haven't meant the end to the perks or ways for lobbyists to curry favor with lawmakers. We never really expected it to (I mean, we weren't exactly born yesterday...). You can't legislate good behavior. And that's why Sunlight's work urging full transparency for the work of Congress and its members is so hugely important.
Today's edition also includes an opposing view op-ed from Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid where he attempts to make the case that he and his fellow Democrats have delivered on their promise to end the status quo environment of corruption in Congress. Watchdog journalists have shown how lawmakers and lobbyists have conspired to get around travel restrictions and gift bans. Plus, when the Senate passed the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, the practice of earmark abuse was preserved by a slight of hand by Sen. Reid and his fellow senators, putting anonymity back in the process.Continue reading
Wondering where the Senate Defense earmarks are in EarmarkWatch.org? Though our collaborators and friends at Taxpayers for Common Sense have compiled a list here, one thing you'll notice is that, unlike the House Defense earmarks contained in Earmark Watch, the Senate disclosures don't list the actual recipient of the earmark, but rather generic project names. So while we know that Sen. Maria Cantwell and Sen. Patty Murray earmarked $2 million for "U.S. Army Extended Cold Weather Clothing System [ECWCS] Hand Protection System" (gloves, presumably), we don't know who will be making those gloves, whether the glovemaker hired lobbyists or had its executives contribute to Cantwell and Murray's campaigns, or were otherwise hand-in-glove with their earmark bestowers. That's because of a slight change in wording that was made in the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, one that the Senate, apparently, prefers--and which all but does away with meaningul earmark disclosure. Read on for more details...Continue reading
Robert Novak suggests in a column today one subject in divided Washington that gets bipartisan support:
[Sen. Harry] Reid is also working behind the scenes with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to undermine earmark transparency and prevent open debate on spending proposals... ...Reid is plotting to strip anti-earmark transparency from the final version of ethics legislation passed by the Senate and House, with tacit support from Republican senators and the GOP leadership.I'm shocked. Also not surprised. Interestingly, Novak reports that the issue that's rankling lawmakers is a provision that would "bar earmarks benefiting a senator's family members." Continue reading
Obviously, no. And I'm sure that Josh Marshall feels the same way. Marshall speculates that Sen. Harry Reid's hiring of a lawyer indicates that Reid might be planning to file a libel suit against John Solomon and his former employer, the Associated Press. I trust that he forgot to add that such a suit--or even the threat of one--would be an assault on the First Amendment and the public's right to know. Sen. Reid is a public figure, and that it's unclear how exactly he has been harmed by the Associated Press story in question, so it would seem that a lawsuit would be problematic from the get go. Remember too that Reid had to amend his financial disclosure forms in response to the AP story (the Senate Ethics Committee is reportedly still reviewing the new filings). The AP continues to stand by the accuracy of the report; if it contains inaccuracies, Reid apparently has not pointed them out to the satisfaction of the AP.Continue reading
The compromise on Sen. Jim DeMint's earmark reform amendment has been released and it appears that the online disclosure section of Sen. Reid's proposal will survive along with the stronger aspects of DeMint's amendment. According to CongressDaily, the Senate will vote on DeMint's amendment (SA 11) on Tuesday and then vote on a secondary amendment proposed by Reid that would do the following:
Reid said his changes include a tighter definition of a targeted "tax benefit" to help a limited group. "This is a flexible and more realistic standard," said Majority Whip Durbin. Reid's amendment would also require 48-hour notice on the Internet and aims to prevent lawmakers such as imprisoned former Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham, R-Calif., from thwarting disclosure rules.Continue reading
Update: TPM Muckraker has details on the face-saving. Reid has bowed to accept the earmark reform.
The Senate Democrats fought yesterday to hold their slim majority together to fight earmark reforms proposed by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) attempted to kill the DeMint amendment (SA 11), which sought to adopt the same earmark reforms the House adopted last week. When Reid pushed a motion to table the amendment ten Democrats voted against their Leader to not table the bill. The whole episode has become a major embarrassment for Reid and it is now rumored that Reid is making a compromise with DeMint to save face.Continue reading
Over the weekend the Washington Post reported further on the contents of the omnibus package bill, the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006. The bill, one of the last items passed of the 109th Congress, is representative of much that is wrong with the legislative process and in such serves as a perfect coda for a Congress that will be remembered as one of the worst.
The Post article tackles some last minute lawmaking by both Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). The two party leaders inserted rejected and opposed initiatives regarding public land sales and Medicare into the bill at the last second despite previously voiced opposition.Continue reading
...to personal uses, it appears that Sen. Harry Reid, hot on the heels of amending his financial disclsoure reports to accurately report the details of a land deal, has also decided to reimburse his campaign $3,300 after using it as a petty cash stash to donate to a fund that buys Christmas gifts for the support staff who work in the building (which happens to be a Ritz-Carlton) where he has his Washington area home. Incidentally, I tend to be much closer to the Captain Ed Morissey view of this--that additional spade work is warrented--as opposed to the Paul Kiel view--that the Associated Press's initial story doesn't add up.Continue reading