Sen. David Vitter wants the Senate Ethics Committee to launch an investigation of Democrats Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer, saying the two broke the Senate’s code of conduct when they floated legislation referencing Vitter’s alleged past rendezvous with prostitutes.
Vitter appeal to the Ethics panel is the latest move in a rapidly escalating battle between the Louisiana Republican and his colleagues across the aisle.
Vitter infuriated Democrats this week by hijacking a debate over an energy-efficiency bill with an amendment aimed at Obamacare. Under Vitter’s amendment, lawmakers would no longer qualify for federal contributions to help cover their health care costs.
It’s a prickly subject for Democrats, and, according to a Friday Politico report, they’re considering the hardest of hardball moves in response. The Democrats are reportedly floating legislation that would ban senators from getting government contributions for their health insurance costs if there is “probable cause” they solicited prostitutes. The move is an obvious swipe at Vitter, who has been suspected of involvement with prostitutes since his 2007 entanglement in the “D.C. Madam” scandal.
But in his call for an Ethics investigation, Vitter is ignoring the swipe by focusing on an alternative draft of the legislation. Democrats reportedly floated an alternative version of their bill that would deny coverage contributions to any lawmaker who voted in support of Vitter’s amendment. Vitter argues that bill amounts to bribery, with lawmakers offering benefits — in this case, the federal coverage contributions — to lawmakers in exchange for their votes.
“This is attempted bribery, and the exact sort of behavior that the Senate Ethics Committee has previously condemned,” he said in a letter to the committee heads.
In his letter, Vitter notes that Boxer is indeed the top Democrat on the Ethics panel. Should she be found complicit in the scheme, Vitter says that Boxer should be stripped of her Ethics Committee membership.
Boxer, for her part, is not backing down either: “Senator Vitter has manufactured a bizarre and phony attack that demeans the Senate,” she said later Friday.
Democrats have not yet formally introduced any version of the anti-Vitter bill, and none may ever hit the floor, but its appearance in press reports has put a spotlight on a part of Vitter’s career he would prefer remain part of the past.
This post was updated at 5:25 p.m. Friday to include Sen. Boxer’s response.
What We're Following See More »
It took long enough, but the Trump administration finally includes an Agriculture secretary. "The Senate easily approved Sonny Perdue on Monday" by a count of 87-11. Perdue enjoyed the support of Democrats like Delaware's Chris Coons and Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin, both of whom spoke in his favor.
"A media arm of the State Department is using federal resources to promote President Donald Trump’s private Florida golf club, fueling scrutiny of the nexus between the president’s official duties and his personal financial interests." On April 4, "Share America, the State Department’s social media-friendly news website, paid homage to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club ... hailing the president’s use of 'the winter White House, as Share America dubbed it, to host world leaders."
President Trump today said he'll be releasing his tax reformpacakge next week around the 100-day mark of his presidency. He promised that "businesses and individuals will receive a 'massive tax cut ... bigger I believe than any tax cut ever."
Despite President Trump's announcement that his tax reform proposal would be released this week, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney now says it will be ready in June. This week's announcement will be limited to "specific governing principles."