Friday, January 19, 2007

Senate passes ethics bill

Second time was the charm, as Republicans (rightly) withdrew their attempt to attach a line-item veto amendment to the package, which derailed an earlier attempt at passage. The unamended bill passed 96-2.

Democrat Robert Byrd, the main obstacle to a compromise, found himself isolated.

For nearly two days, Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) -- who jealously guards the Senate's prerogatives on spending matters -- single-handedly blocked efforts to come to an accord on that line-item veto vote....

But Reid found a path around Byrd, offering Republicans a chance next week to add the spending control measure to a bill to raise the minimum wage if they can find the votes. That broke the logjam, and the Senate then began debating several amendments to the bill, with an eye toward completing work late last night.

A good compromise. The minimum wage bill has plenty of momentum, too, and attaching the veto to it could actually increase support by drawing in Republicans who otherwise would oppose the wage bill. That could end up giving the bill a Byrd-proof majority (and veto-proof, too, though that's not a real risk).

The ethics bill is pretty good, but there are still some problems. For instance:

Lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, also talked to lawmakers about excluding from the measure's travel ban trips to Israel sponsored by the group's nonprofit foundation affiliate. The legislation, as written, would allow those trips to continue.

So as long as a lobbying group has a nonprofit affiliate, they can still pay for legislator travel? That's stupid.

And the story notes a big loophole related to fundraising events, which aren't mentioned at all.

It's a good sign, though, that lobbyists worked so hard to derail the bill. It's not a solution, but it's a step forward.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's a good compromise. But do you think Harry Reid will keep his promise?

1/19/2007 5:07 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Yes; why wouldn't he?

Beyond that, he has to if he wants to have Republicans believe him ever again. You don't get things done in the Senate by simply lying to the opposition.

1/19/2007 5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think any president, especially Bush, should get the line-item veto. It gives too much power to the president. I would much rather see a ban on earmarks. Sean, are you saying the line-item veto could still pass with the minimum wage bill?

Now for a little Bush bashing. He (and his minion Cheney) has already tried to grab too much power. What with his astronomical number of "signing statements" choosing which laws to ignore, the line-item veto would be downright scary in Bush's hands.
- Caracarn

1/19/2007 8:31 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Caracarn: The line-item veto is a relatively minor power. The president simply can't abuse it without losing either the power (Congress could just revoke it) or losing the ability to get any of his legislation through Congress.

And yes, I think it could pass if attached to the minimum-wage bill. It would still have to get past Byrd, but a wage-veto bill would probably have enough support to bypass him.

Tactically speaking, it might be smarter for Dems to do what Republicans did in 1996 -- wait until right before the presidential election to grant the power. In that scenario, the Dems would stall a line-item veto until summer 2008. It'd be kind of tough to explain that, though.

Oh, and good to see that you can post comments again!

1/20/2007 8:41 AM  

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