DO-NOTHIN'. The collapse...

DO-NOTHIN'. The collapse of the Republicans' once-formidable legislative machine in Congress is fairly bracing to behold. While immigration reform remains bogged down, intra-GOP squabbling over earmarking and appropriations are hampering the prospects for passing a budget resolution, an emergency supplemental bill, and lobbying reform. The fight over the emergency Iraq supplemental is amusing: the President's veto threat presumably provides some theater meant to help revive some of his popularity and conservative bona fides -- but it's a fight he's picking with congressional Republicans, at a time when it's their fates that are actually hanging in the balance. And the continued delays on the lobbying reform bill -- already a cartoonishly weak brew (PDF), particularly in the House version -- are even funnier. The dynamic is similar to what I said earlier about the dilution of transparency requirements in the House bill: "Earmark reform" was always both something of a non sequitur response to congressional ethics problems and a phony way of addressing Republicans' abandonment of small government principles -- but Republicans can't even come close to accomplishing their own pet faux reform anyway.

In other ethics-related news, Democrat Allan Mollohan's fall from the House ethics committee in the wake of murky but damning conflict-of-interest revelations is certainly worth noting. Unfortunately, I don't have too much novel analysis to offer up: It's a black eye for Democrats working to wave the "culture of corruption" flag this election. Were the ethics committee not still moribund (even with Howard Berman stepping in as ranking member and the staffing stalemate now resolved) due to the continuation of a totally retrograde and, for Democrats, politically timid ethics truce, I'd certainly support Mollohan being investigated. For Democrats, he'd be collateral damage worth the wave of investigations into Republican abuse the committee could initiate.

--Sam Rosenfeld

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