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Durbin, Obama on stalled ethics bill. GOP senate leaders add poison pill. UPDATES

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"I am really disappointed that we have not been able to seize this moment in history," said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) at a presser on the GOP attempts to kill the ethics bill.

The Senate last night, on healthy bipartisan roll calls, voted to approve amendments to a pending overall ethics bill that would:
*ban senators from taking discount flights on corporate jets.
*ban lobbyists and special interests "from throwing lavish parties honoring Members at party conventions."
*strengthen a variety of gift bans and transparency requirements.

Nothing will happen, however because the GOP senate leaders--headed by Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnel (R-Ky.) threw in what's called a poison pill, giving the president a line item veto. Republicans know Democratic leaders will give them a separate vote on line item veto provisions. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just pledged to do it at a press conference.

Whatever the merits of a line item veto, tossing in a bid for a line item veto in the ethics bill puts the brakes on getting it done. The House already passed its version as part of its 100 day agenda. The more deliberative Senate will take its time.

click below for statement from Obama and reform groups..


I talked with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) about the prognosis of the legislation after he hosted the regular Thursday morning Illinois breakfast with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

"I think it was a profound mistake to gum up what was becoming an excellent bill," Obama said.
..... McConnell "doesn't seem to want a bill."
Obama said he hoped McConnell realizes this is "bad politics for their side."

click for official senate.gov record of votes....
http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/vote_menu_110_1.htm

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Campaign Legal Center - Common Cause - Democracy 21
Public Citizen - U.S. PIRG

Statement by Reform Groups on Senate Vote Yesterday
to Block Ethics and Lobbying Reform Legislation

No one should be confused about what happened yesterday in the Senate on ethics and lobbying reform legislation.

Forty-five Republican Senators voted to obstruct and kill the strongest ethics and lobbying reform legislation since the Watergate scandals three decades ago.

The Senate vote yesterday to block ethics and lobbying reform legislation comes less than three months after voters said that concern about corruption and ethics in government was more important to their vote than any other issue, including the war, according to national exit polls on Election Day.

Forty-five Republican Senators responded to the deep concerns expressed by the American people about the worst congressional corruption and ethics scandals in three decades by ignoring the interests of the American people and voting to kill ethics and lobbying reforms designed to clean up the Senate.

We are surprised and disappointed that Senators such as John McCain (R-AZ) and Susan Collins (R-ME), who helped lead the fight in the last Congress for ethics and lobbying reforms, and many other Republican Senators who voted for strong ethics amendments this week, suddenly have joined with longtime reform opponents in the effort to block strong Senate ethics and lobbying reform legislation.

Unless Senate Republicans who profess to support ethics and lobbying reforms switch their votes, they will be responsible for killing the very reforms they claim to support and for maintaining the corrupting practices that played a central role in the Abramoff lobbying scandals in Congress.

No credence at all should be given to the argument offered yesterday by Senate Republicans that the American people must be denied strong new ethics rules and lobbying laws unless they get to vote on an amendment unrelated to the bill that deals with a line-item veto.

No Senator can credibly justify to the American people killing ethics and lobbying reform, and thereby preserving corrupt practices in the Senate, in the name of pursuing a line-item veto.

This effort is nothing more than a cynical ploy and parliamentary manipulation led by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who has spent his entire career in the Senate opposing, obstructing and filibustering campaign finance, ethics and lobbying reform bills.

Senator McConnell used every obstructionist tactic and parliamentary trick in the books to try to kill the McCain-Feingold soft money ban, and in the end he lost. Our groups will do everything we can to help ensure that Senator McConnell loses again in his fight to obstruct and kill ethics and lobbying reforms.

We applaud Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) for the strong and effective leadership he is providing on behalf of the strongest ethics and lobbying reform in the Senate in decades. It is essential that Senator Reid continues to schedule cloture votes for as long as it takes to defeat the supporters of the corrupt status quo and to win the battle to clean up the Senate.

We also thank all of the Senators who voted for cloture yesterday on the ethics and lobbying reform legislation, including the only Republican Senators who voted for cloture, Senators Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Norm Coleman (R-MN).

The battle to pass strong and effective ethics and lobbying reforms will continue in the Senate until it is won.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on January 18, 2007 10:39 AM.

Sweet column: Obama floats Iraq plan after Clinton puts out proposal. Obama rapid response. was the previous entry in this blog.

Durbin and Obama bet the La. senators on Bears-Saints game. Da Bears. is the next entry in this blog.

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