It's the first day of the 110th Congress and Democratic leaders in the House are rolling out their big ethics reform package designed to sever links between lobbyists and lawmakers with new restrictions inclusing a ban on travel, meals, and gifts to legislators paid for by lobbyists. It's a very good start, and we hope a prelude to serious consideration of full public financing of elections as the last step in "draining the swamp" and cleaning up Congress.
In addition to banning some of the more egregious activities lobbyists engage in to woo lawmakers (lavish junkets, expensive meals, trips on corporate jets) the package of reforms would also give the House ethics committee some of its teeth back by giving them oversight on Member travel requests.
It's encouraging to see this positive first step being taken at the outset, and indicates House members have taken voter's discontent with rampant corruption to heart. However, the bread and butter of influence-peddling remains campaign contributions - we're looking forward to seeing the 110th take this energy for reform to its logical conclusion: full public financing of Congressional elections. And we're not alone - in evaluating the House ethics proposals, USA Today says public financing is ultimately the way to go.