Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Once Bitten, (Hopefully) Twice Shy

The NYTimes reports this morning that Rep. David Dreier, chairman of the Rules Committee, is considering a comprehensive package of lobbying reforms, which may include a complete ban on "all travel underwritten by outside groups." Dreier told the Times "The plan is to be really bold and strong here," after meeting with Senator John McCain, who has introduced his own lobbying-reform plan in the Senate.

Dreier will meet today with Steny Hoyer, the Democratic Whip; hopefully the two can reach agreement on a rules-reform package so that these changes can be made in a bipartisan manner. Along with the travel ban, Dreier said he was also looking at more stringent reporting requirements for lobbyists, and also considering a longer waiting period before former congress members or their aides could become lobbyists.

I hope that Dreier and McCain will get significant support for their plans from both sides of the aisle, and that both chambers will pass these rules changes in the near future. They're obviously much too long in coming, but that's no excuse for not getting it done now.

In other news, Senators McCain and Coburn in the Senate and Rep. Jeff Flake in the House are joining forces to root out so-called "hidden earmarks" - pork pies stuffed anonymously into appropriations and other bills. Said Coburn "If we aren't told who is asking for it, who benefits and its justification, we'll move to strike it." Good for them, I hope they actually do it.

Hotline On Call has the latest (public) numbers in the Blunt v. Boehner race: currently Blunt 46, Boehner 30. Many members continue to sit on their hands, according to many sources, because they're waiting for the entry of another candidate (possibly John Shadegg). Unfortunately, the centrist Tuesday Group seems to be splintering, which is not a good thing.


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