We were encouraged by the passage yesterday of the new House ethics package. With strong earmark reform, a ban on gifts and meals from lobbyists, mandatory pre-approval of any trips in connection with official duties, coupled with almost immediate disclosure of such trips, and a prohibition on the use of corporate jets at below market rates, this package is a good first step.

The new Democratic leadership deserves credit for creating legislation that tackles the ethics issues that plagued the last Congress. But implementing these rule changes is only the beginning.  Enforcement is the key to real ethics reform. Congress must now create an independent ethics oversight body, such as an Office of Public Integrity, to restore public confidence in Congress.  We are optimistic that the bi-partisan taskforce appointed to study the issue will come to the same conclusion.

On a final note, to ensure that all members are held accountable for their actions, the rules must be changed to permit outsiders to file ethics complaints. Hopefully, with new ethics rules in place as well as increased oversight and enforcement, Congress can finally move Beyond DeLay.