The Democrats' Ethics Reform Charade

Today a vote will take place in the Senate to avoid a conference and concur with the landslide 411- 8 vote in the House for the new ethics reform bill proposed by Democratic leaders Harry Reid (Nev.) and Nancy Pelosi (Calif.).

Pelosi has said that the passing of the so-called Honest Leadership, Open Government Act, will “draw back the curtains, throw up the windows, and let the sunshine in,” but Senate Republicans disagree. Republicans argue that the secretly-drafted new bill changes long-standing Senate rules in an unprecedented manner and is loaded with loopholes that are down right embarrassing.

“As unfortunate as it is this bill will pass,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) in a last minute press conference yesterday afternoon “and it will pass for the wrong reasons.”

HUMAN EVENTS talked to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) about some of the discrepancies that Democrats are hiding. Under the new bill, Reid would take the place of the non-partisan Senate parliamentarian in deciding whether or not a bill or conference report complies with the earmark disclosure requirements.

“Under this new bill, if I challenged it, the parliamentarian would just say ‘no they complied with the rule,’ because the rule says all that has to happen is the majority leader or the chairman certify that it’s been done… If they say they have done it its certified,” said DeMint. “There is no point of order against the breach of a rule.”

Other questionable provisions in the bill include the number of votes it takes to sustain the ruling of the chair. “They have already revised this thing once since they sent it out. When they first sent it out it had a 51 vote threshold, but when the Democrats figured out that might be a problem they went back to 41 — which is really unprecedented that a Senate rule can be overridden with 41 votes.”

Several Republicans (especially those running for re-election) are scared to speak out against a bill labeled as “honest” and “open” with recent earmark and lobbying scandals capturing Washington and influencing public opinion. “If it were a secret ballot vote there probably wouldn’t be one vote for this bill, there is so much fear in voting against a bill that is related to ethics that people will vote for this irrespective of their belief. It’s a complete charade,” said DeMint

Today, before the vote, Republican Senators DeMint, Coburn, John Ensign (Nev.), John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsay Graham (S.C.) and John Cornyn (Tex.) will hold another press conference to “urge their colleagues to fight to restore the full earmark reform that was agreed to in January.”

“These little things they say that are no big deal basically mean that there is no enforcement of the requirements. And so then requirements become suggestions,” DeMint told us.

“It’s the same as with the immigration bill, it was a pretense of border security and pretense of workplace verification when the real goal was completely different.”

The new legislation is touted as a bill that will finally clean up earmark and lobbying scandals making Congress “the most honest and open in history” and in doing so carry out Democrats campaign promises.

In reality the bill does not even prohibit Senators from trading earmarks for votes or keep Senators and staff from promoting earmarks from which they or their families could benefit from.

The new bill does not require earmarks certifications to be posted on the internet within 48 hours as Democrats have claimed. The language of the bill states that these requirements are only mandatory if they are “technically feasible” therefore — as DeMint stated — making them merely a suggestion.

“I don’t want to go through this charade of saying we’ve got the biggest ethics reform in history when at the bottom of it we haven’t really done anything to create an enforceable earmark disclosure rule,” said DeMint.