Editorial: Old habits die hard as Congress still for sale
"Changing rules is easy. Changing bad habits is hard, particularly on Capitol Hill, where free winter trips to warm places, big donations to campaign treasuries and fat salaries in post-congressional careers are perennial temptations. Like serial dieters unable to resist a chocolate sundae, plenty of current and former members of Congress appear to be caving in. Or is it cashing in?

On several fronts in the past week, commitments to reduce lobbyists' influence and limit conflicts of interest were being tested, skirted or just avoided.

On travel, the best approach would be to have the public pay for congressional trips, with full reporting of the details for the public to see. Any other option leaves loopholes. The Democratic reform, for instance, allows short trips paid for by groups that lobby Congress and longer ones by other groups. On post congressional lobbying careers, the ban should be tougher and longer. A bill passed by the Senate extended it to two years; the House hasn't taken it up.

But what's most lacking is the will to honor the spirit of the rules, not just the letter. As the Democrats' use of their committee chairmen attests, not even the leadership that invented the rules appears ready to go that far."

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Editorial: Congress' ethics for sale (USA Today 2/27)

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