This weekend, I spoke on free trade at the Club for Growth's annual meeting in Palm Beach this weekend. At dinner last night, I heard an amazing story from Steve King, a Republican congressman from Iowa. I was amazed at two levels: (1) the story itself and (2) the fact that he was not amazed.
King is a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Recently, the Committee has been meeting about the "cram down" bill, a proposed law that would give the power to judges in bankruptcy meetings to alter the terms of people's mortgages. King, realizing that the bill is likely to pass, was trying to minimize the harm it would do. So he offered an amendment that would prevent anyone from taking advantage of this special deal if he/she had engaged in any material misrepresentation during the original mortgage process. His amendment passed by a vote of 21-3.
But later the staff of the Committee, who report to Chairman John Conyers, altered the amendment, after it had been voted on, to state that no one could take advantage of the special deal if he/she had been convicted of fraud. Of course, there's a huge difference. What they voted for is very different from the language that the staffers substituted without the permission of those who voted.
I was shocked. I asked King if there was anything he could do about this dishonest behavior on the part of Conyers's staffers. He said that there wasn't.