Representative Gabrielle Giffords took her first action in Congress today, voting on a package of ethics reform measures.
A Ban on Gifts from Lobbyists: Members of Congress and their staff are not allowed to accept gifts or expensive meals that could sway legislators' opinions, create unethical relationships between lobbyists and legislators, or give the appearance of impropriety. This is also a ban on gifts and meals from lobbyists and the organizations that employ them, and requires that tickets to sporting and other events given to Members and staff are valued at market prices.
A Ban on Lobbyist Travel: Lobbyists and the organizations that employ them cannot plan, organize, request, finance, arrange, or participate in travel for Members of Congress or their staff.
Shut Down Pay-to-Play Schemes: This measure ends the revolving door between Congress and lobbying firms, in which jobs were exchanged for political access.
A Ban on Arm Twisting for Votes: The measure prohibits the practice of holding votes open for undue amounts of time for the sole purpose of twisting arms and affecting the outcome of a vote.
A Requirement on fiscal and budgetary responsibility: Congress must use "pay-as-you-go" budget rules to stop any new deficit spending as the first step toward reversing record deficits mortgaging our children's future.
Earmark Reform: There will be no secret deals between legislators and special interests -- there will be full disclosure of all earmarks, requiring Members to certify that earmarks provided would be for the public good -- not financially benefiting themselves or their spouses.
In case you missed it, here’s an interesting story from the New York Daily News.
“WASHINGTON - President Bush has quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant, the Daily News has learned.
The President asserted his new authority when he signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20. Bush then issued a "signing statement" that declared his right to open people's mail under emergency conditions.
That claim is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he had just signed, say experts who have reviewed it.”
The great decider strikes again.