Democrats Go Straight to Work

Brian Zick

Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray for WaPo report: Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was elected America's first female speaker of the House yesterday in a raucous, bipartisan celebration of a historic breakthrough, and hours later she presided over passage of the broadest ethics and lobbying revision since the Watergate era. (…) In the House, Democrats did not skip a beat between formally taking control and getting to work on what they have called their hundred-hours agenda. Last night, the House nearly unanimously approved a broad package of internal rules changes designed to sever the cozy links that have developed between lawmakers and lobbyists. The changes would prohibit House members or employees from knowingly accepting gifts or travel from a registered lobbyist, foreign agent or lobbyist's client. Lawmakers could no longer fly on corporate jets. In addition, congressional travel financed by outside groups would have to be approved in advance by the House ethics committee and immediately disclosed to the public. The measures were approved 430 to 1, with only Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) voting against it. (…) Today, Democrats hope to pass new rules to promote open deliberations in the House, rein in special-interest spending and lawmaker pet projects, and prohibit passage of spending or tax measures that increase the federal deficit. Over the next two weeks, Democrats in the House plan to enact new homeland security measures, increase the minimum wage, allow federally funded stem cell research, permit the federal government to negotiate lower prescription-drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries, cut student-loan interest rates and fund alternative-energy research by rolling back tax breaks for oil companies.

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