Back to the Good Old Days for the GOP?

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When Newt Gingrich and his self-proclaimed revolutionaries took power after the 1994 elections, they passed the so-called gift ban, a deliberately draconian law that prohibits members of Congress and their staffs from accepting gifts of any value -- even a cup of coffee -- from lobbyists, journalists and contributors. Another reform: Gingrich placed six-year term limits on all committee chairmen. But in the days since Newt announced his resignation, his presumptive heir, Bob Livingston of Louisiana, has been peppered with furtive requests from fellow Republicans who want to turn back the reform clock. The total gift ban, they argue, is humiliating because it presumes lawmakers can be bought for a pittance. And some current committee chairmen, faced with losing power in just two years, are suddenly seeing the value in accruing the wisdom and effectiveness that only a long tenure can provide. They want the term limits revoked. Another idea being floated: a pay raise for House members, something Livingston has supported in the past. But lawmakers shouldn’t get their hopes up. Said a GOP official on Capitol Hill, referring to the idea of revoking term limits for committee chairmen: "That'll fly like a lead zeppelin."