Building a Better Spouse Trap


Theoretically, the Senate's going to vote today on stopping politicians from getting cushy lobbying jobs for their family members. Theoretically.

At least half a dozen congressional spouses have jobs as registered lobbyists and several more are connected with lobbying firms, but reining in the practice to prevent potential conflicts or the appearance of them has not been a priority among congressional leaders. Even modest proposals such as banning wives and husbands from lobbying their spouses or using their spouses' floor privileges for lobbying have gone nowhere.

Democrats made ethics reform a major issue in last fall's congressional elections, but the ethics package the House approved earlier this month didn't address the issue and neither did the one proposed by Senate Democrats. Last week, however, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) proposed banning spouses of senators from lobbying any part of the chamber. The lone exception is for spouses who were lobbying at least one year before their husband or wife was elected.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on the legislation as soon as today. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) called Vitter and said he would support the proposal with one caveat: It should exempt spouses who are already lobbyists.

Things are moving slowly, as you'd expect after that. Anyone know a good blog or site keeping tabs on this?