Senate Republicans scuttled broad legislation last night to curtail lobbyists' influence and tighten congressional ethics rules, refusing to let the bill pass without a vote on an unrelated measure that would give President Bush virtual line-item-veto power.
The bill could be brought back up later this year. Indeed, Democrats will try one last time today to break the impasse. But its unexpected collapse last night infuriated Democrats and the government watchdog groups that had been pushing it since the lobbying scandals that rocked the last Congress. Proponents charged that Republicans had used the spending-control measure as a ruse to thwart ethics rules they dared not defeat in a straight vote.
"It's as obvious as the sun coming up somewhere in this world that they tried to kill this bill," a furious Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said last night in an interview. "And all 21 Republican senators up for reelection are going to have to explain how they brought down the most significant reform ever to come before this Congress. They brought this baby down."
This extremely important ethics reform legislation is a priority this year for obvious reasons. The voters cited corruption over and over again as the reason for their vote last year. This doesn't seem to matter to the Senate Republicans. We need to stay on top of this and not let this GOP rejection of the voters stand unnoticed and undocumented. It would be a tragedy if the GOP manages to kill this and pay the consequences.