Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Reid Remarks on Lobbying Reform

Here’s some good excerpts from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s formal remarks yesterday as the Senate began consideration of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act – also known (by me) as the Act to Reform Corrupt Republicans.

Reid makes clear that, no matter the rhetoric on the other side of the aisle, this is a decidedly Republican scandal:
The public has seen a Republican culture that has distorted government priority and grown into the greatest government scandal since Watergate. So as we begin this debate, it is important to realize this wrongdoing often violated existing laws and congressional ethics rules. It is already illegal to offer or accept a bribe.

It is already illegal to defraud your clients. It is already illegal to lie and commit perjury. The rules already prohibit Members from taking trips that have no real business purpose and are just excuses for a golf outing. So much of what went on was already criminal or certainly clearly unethical. The problem, in many cases, was not in the rules. It was in the culture that allowed everyone to believe they could ignore the rules.

The culture of corruption distorts our priorities and frustrates efforts to address the real needs of Americans, these Americans who are trying to cope with high natural gas prices to heat their homes, high fuel prices for the cars, concerns about their own retirement security, and a growing sense that they are having to work harder and harder to maintain even their current standard of living. Each one of us came here to serve the American people. We have been given a tremendously difficult responsibility. But it is one we all sought. Of course, it is a real privilege.

I am confident we can clean up the situation we now have in Washington so we can get on with the Nation's business. America deserves a government as good as its people. Together, America can do better.