Democrats Showing Weakness on Reform

The Democrats want to run as the party of reform? Then they can’t afford days like today.

Today, the Senate Rules Committee voted on two different reform proposals. One was the Democrats’ Honest Leadership and Open Government Act; the other was an earmark and lobbying reform bill by Sen. Lott (R-MS). The Democrats’ bill went down on party lines, 10-8. Lott’s bill passed unanimously. In other words, in one short committee meeting, the Republicans completely co-opted the issue.

Meanwhile, Sen. Obama (D-IL), who’s supposed to be the point man on this, introduced a measure three weeks ago that would create a Congressional Ethics Enforcement Commission, an exterior agency that would handle ethics investigations and then make recommendations to the ethics committees. Sounds like a pretty sound idea, right? Especially given the shambles that the ethics committees are in right now, you would think.

Well, Sen. Obama (D-IL) sent out a “Dear Colleague” letter February 10th (read the letter here). The response? As today’s Hill reports, it’s been…underwhelming. As of yesterday, he had one co-sponsor, Sen. Reid (D-NV). Today, according to Sen. Obama’s office, he added Sen. Kerry (D-MA). So that’s two – not very impressive support. Why? As The Hill puts it: “lawmakers appear to view the medicine as too strong.”