Barack Obama’s Claim to Washington Ethics Reform

Today, while addressing a convention celebrating the 50th anniversary of the AARP, Barack Obama claimed that he passed a major ethic reform bill in Congress. He received great applaud for his accomplishment.

The truth is, the House passed a very strong reform bill which then had to go to the Senate for approval. Senate Democratic leaders offered a markedly watered down version of the House bill which was sponsored by Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader and supported by other Democratic leaders including Senator Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden. Their version would have markedly reduced the transparency of sponsers of earmarks.

Senator Jim DeMint, Republican from South Carolina introduced an amendment to Reid’s bill which reinstituted the strong stance of the House bill. Harry Reid and other Democratic leaders fought the amendment, possibly not realizing that it essentially re-established the strong wording of the House bill.

To his credit, Barack Obama along with eight other Democrats and Senator Joe Lieberman, Independent, did cross party lines to vote with the Republicans to have the amendment added to the Reid bill.

How Obama defied Reid and got real ethics reform passed

The measure to block the watering down of the ethics reform bill was not led by Barack Obama. Fortunately, he and a few other Democrats have the foresight and rare courage to defy the Senate Democratic leadership to join the majority of Republicans who followed the example set by Jim DeMint of South Carolina to defeat Senator Harry Reid’s attempt to torpedo real ethics reform.

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