Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Ethics, Schmethics Says GOP Senate

Proving that their shock at the Jack Abramoff revelations was nothing but an Oscar-worthy performance, Senate Republicans today shot down a measure sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to strictly curtail the buying power of lobbyists in Washington.

S.AMDT.2932, which was designed to “…provide additional transparency in the legislative process,” by prohibiting all gifts to lawmakers, including meals, and almost all privately-funded travel, was defeated by a vote of 55-44, with not one Republican voting in favor of the restrictions. The Democratic plan would only have made travel exceptions for trips sponsored by tax-exempt charities and educational groups.

The vote and debate came just three days after former California Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham was sentenced to eight years in prison for accepting more than $2 million in bribes.

“I am disappointed that no Republican saw fit to join us in our effort to make these further reforms by voting for the amendment that Democrats offered today,” said Reid in a statement. “The American people expect us to end the culture of corruption and get back to the people’s business.”

The Senate later accepted by voice vote a Republican amendment that bans all gifts from lobbyists, including meals – but not travel.

So there you have it. Halliburton will still be free to fly GOP senators to lavish golf outings all over the world – but at least Bill Frist and Trent Lott will have to spring for their own beer in the clubhouse afterwards.