After the House passed a good though modest bill for earmark disclosure, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered a different version of the bill that would have exempted 95% of earmarks. The indispensable Senator Jim DeMint offered an amendment to change it to the House version. Reid gave in to political pressure and the amendment passed.
Far worse was the Democratic attack on free speech. Buried in their "ethics reform" legislation was a provision that would banned organizations from soliciting the public to contact Congress without submitting to intrusive regulations such as handing over their membership lists. God forbid that Congressmen hear from their constituents! We can't have that!
Political speech is the heart of the of the First Amendment. Yet the consistent assumption of "reform" legislation in Congress in recent years has been that it is the people who are corrupting Congress, and not Congress which is itself corrupt. Thankfully, after a storm of protest, the Senate passed an amendment to strip the measure 55-43. All the Senators defending the provision were Democrats.
Democrats apparently don't think that their new House majority is big enough. So they have decided to create five new Congressmen out of nothing. They decided to treat the nonvoting delegates from Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia as Congressmen. Four of these delegates are Democrats (Puerto Rico has a Republican representative). So they have effectively given themselves an extra three votes.
In case you're wondering, this is completely unconstitutional. Congressmen must represent states. And like it or not, territories are not states. For one thing, territories don't have to pay federal income taxes. Less partisan liberals have criticized this move when Democrats tried it in 1992.
The New York Times voiced a similar sentiment in December 1992: “A greedy grab . . . an outrageous power play . . . a distressing sign that the leadership hasn’t the slightest clue that people are fed up with Washington’s business as usual.” (Editorial, 12/29/92)