Mudcat Café message #1651351 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #62901   Message #1651351
Posted By: Amos
18-Jan-06 - 11:03 PM
Thread Name: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
Subject: RE: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration

Democrats Unveil Lobbying Curbs

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 19, 2006; Page A01

Congressional Democrats yesterday laid out a plan to change what they called a GOP "culture of corruption" in Washington, even as Republicans pointed to ethics lapses on their antagonists' side of the aisle.

Democratic leaders from the House and Senate endorsed proposals that closely mirror Republican plans unveiled this week to tighten regulations on lobbyists since the Jack Abramoff political corruption scandal broke. But in a sign that an ethical "arms race" may be developing, the Democratic plans go further than the Republicans' proposals.

Rather than limiting the value of a gift to $20, as House Republicans are considering, Democrats would prohibit all gifts from lobbyists. Democrats also take direct aim at some of the legislative practices that have become established in the past 10 years of Republican rule in Congress. They vowed to end the K Street Project, under which Republicans in Congress pressure lobbying organizations to hire only Republican staff members and contribute only to Republican candidates.

Lawmakers would have to publicly disclose negotiations over private-sector jobs, a proposal inspired by then-House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman W.J. "Billy" Tauzin's job talks in 2003 that led to his hiring as president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America in January 2005. Executive branch officials who are negotiating private-sector jobs would need approval from the independent Office of Governmental Ethics.

Under the Democrats' plan, House and Senate negotiators working out final versions of legislation would have to meet in open session, with all members of the conference committee -- not just Republicans -- having the opportunity to vote on amendments. Legislation would have to be posted publicly 24 hours before congressional consideration. Democrats also proposed to crack down on no-bid contracting and to require that any person appointed to a position involving public safety "possess proven credentials."

"Mr. Abramoff and his associates will be held up as the beginning and end of our congressional crisis, but they are just the symptom of a larger problem," said Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.). "Now is the time to realize that the Republican members of Congress who put America up for sale have neither the ability nor the credibility to lead us in a new direction."

Seems to me, in general, that a new direction would be a peachy idea.