WASHINGTON - In a move that was described by freshman Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown as "the most extraordinary piece of legislation I've ever seen in my life on the hill," the House approved a Senate version of a long delayed ethics reform measure.
Early this morning, President Obama, with Vice-President Joe Biden at his side along with several House and Senate leaders, signed into law the landmark bill, named in honor of the vice-president - The Joe Biden Ethics Reform Bill.
The vice-president immediately characterized the legislation as "a big F******g deal. That's two in a row!"
Working all night Wednesday, with every member of Congress present and the president and vice-president working the phones from the White House, the House passed the Senate version of the most sweeping ethics reform package ever put forth by a governmental body with an incredible unanimous vote.
All the economic and political uncertainties about ethics reform seem to have been put to bed. What began as a series of modest reform measures three decades ago have become the federal government's biggest offensive against any and all unethical practices in Washington.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) okayed the landmark passage adding that, "America will go broke BUT we'll finally have an ethical government."
"This is nothing short of another Civil Rights Act of the 21st century," said Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, second to the next to the highest Democrat in the House.
However, a few diehard Senators remain skeptical. "The American people aren't fooled," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
"It's generational theft," Arizona Senator John McCain said. "Our grandchildren, their grandchildren and their children's grandchildren and my great, great grandchildren and their... well, we'll all be paying rent to China for a long, long time.
"Hell, yes we will!" added Republican John Boehner.
Seems Representative Bart Stupak of Michigan was the last to sign on to the new legislation before a last minute deal was struck allowing language to be put into the bill clearly stating that federal dollars for abortion would not be used. When Representative Barney Frank said that "abortion has nothing to do with the ethics bill," Stupak shot back, "I don't care. I want the language in there, anyway!" He got it and the president got his vote.
Several Tea Party activists were standing around the Capitol late last night wondering why all the lights were on so late. After learning of the passage of ethics reform, one member threw up her fists and said, "This time, I'm on a mission. Ethics reform, who do they think their kidding?"
"All I know is government was put here for certain reasons," Bob Barley from Elko Nevada added. "They were not put here to run banks, insurance companies, health care, automobile companies and now ethics!"
After the signing event at the White House very, very, very early this morning, President Obama called it a new day.
"What this day represents is another stone firmly laid in the foundation of the American dream. Last night, history called upon Congress, and this time, they actually picked up the phone! When the history books are written, it will look back on this time and see that we faced the crisis, we did not shrink from our challenges. We overcame them. We did not avoid our responsibilities, we embraced them. We did not fear our future, we shaped it. And let's go Kansas Jayhawks!"
Jim Lichtman writes and speaks on ethics. His commentaries can be found at www.ethicsStupid.com.
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