Saturday, August 11, 2007

Will Bush Veto the Lobbying Reform Bill?

There's been no word on whether the President has signed or vetoed the lobbying reform bill sent to him by Congress. Turns out, there's good reason. Congress is concerned he'll veto it, so they haven't sent it yet:

“We’re still discussing how to proceed,” said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. “We’re still trying to get a better handle from the White House on whether the president’s actually going to veto this bill.”

White House spokesman Tony Snow criticized the conference agreement on the measure (S 1) on Aug. 2, the day the Senate cleared it for the president, because he said earmark-disclosure provisions had been “considerably weakened.”

Snow singled out for scorn a provision that would give the majority leader or the relevant committee chairman the power to determine whether an earmark list accompanying a bill was complete.

The Congressional leadership calls this an 'ethics' bill, but that's not really accurate. It has only a limited impact on how Representatives and Senators do their work. Even Speaker Pelosi's summary isn't able to show much of an impact on Members' activities. Apparently in the ethics cases of Bob Ney, Duke Cunningham, Mark Foley, Bill Jefferson and... many others, it was the lobbyists who were at fault. As such, there's no outside ethics review body, no provision for outside groups to file complaints against Members... no teeth to speak of.

It also doesn't help that leaders chickened out on meaningful reform of earmarks, as the White House has pointed out.

It must be very tempting for the White House to consider vetoing this. As it is, the bill is a political document that does little to clean up the Congress. Signing it gives the Democratic leadership a free pass. They get the credit for ethics reform without actually doing any work. A veto might at least force them to consider real changes.

No comments: