Within hours of taking power in the House, Democrats successfully pushed through ethics legislation by a telling margin: 430 to 1. Either it’s politically untenable to vote in favor of corruption (except for Dan Burton of Indiana) or the bill was watered down enough, as critics alleged, that it wasn’t worth opposing.
While Thursday was set aside for ceremony and celebration in the Senate, the House plunged immediately into work on the agenda that Democrats campaigned on last fall.
Despite Republican procedural protests, the ethics changes drew the opposition of only one lawmaker, Rep. Dan Burton (news, bio, voting record), R-Ind. Democrats said they marked a first step toward ending a “culture of corruption” that they said flourished under the GOP.
The changes expand restrictions on privately financed trips enjoyed by lawmakers, prohibit travel on corporate jets and require greater disclosure of earmarks, the pet projects inserted into legislation at the behest of individual lawmakers.
House members would still be allowed to take trips financed by foundations that seek to influence public opinion, but only if the ethics committee approves the travel in advance.