Ethics reform? Let's shorten the line for the StairMaster instead

House Republicans postpone release of legislation on lobbying.

Published February 2, 2006 5:27PM (EST)

After the sort of debate usually reserved for matters of war, the House of Representatives approved a measure Wednesday that will ban former members of Congress from accessing the House floor or using the House gymnasium. It was the Republicans' first effort at ethics reform in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal, and if you think it was a trivial beginning -- Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott called it a sign that the House is in a "delusional state" -- perhaps you should consider this: Tom DeLay actually voted no.

With any luck, DeLay won't even have to vote on the somewhat more serious ethics reform measures proposed last month by House Speaker Dennis Hastert. As the Washington Post reports, House Republicans blasted away at virtually every aspect of Hastert's plan in a closed-door meeting at the Capitol Wednesday. House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier was supposed to distribute a draft of the reform package Wednesday. Now he says it's not ready yet, even as he promises that StairMaster reform is only a "first step."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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