When Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez agree on something maybe it is time to declare victory. Or the Apocalypse.
It all started when Ocasio-Cortez tweeted “if you are a member of Congress + leave, you shouldn’t be allowed to turn right around&leverage your service for a lobbyist check.”
Quickly, Cruz responded. “Here’s something I don’t say often: on this point, I AGREE with @AOC. Indeed, I have long called for a LIFETIME BAN on former Members of Congress becoming lobbyists. The Swamp would hate it, but perhaps a chance for some bipartisan cooperation?”
And that brought this retort from AOC: “Let’s make a deal.” And she laid out some very simple conditions. A clean bill, no poison pills, “just a straight, clean ban on members of Congress becoming paid lobbyists — then I’ll co-lead the bill with you.”
Don’t let this moment of odd-couple bipartisanship go unrequited. Conflicts of interests aren’t limited to one party, but have become a way of life in Washington, D.C. Spend some time as an elected official, qualify for a federal pension and then scurry to K Street for the really big bucks. It is wrong, and it undermines the notion of a citizen Congress. The legislative branch was never intended to be a finishing school for private-sector riches from connections made in public service.
What better way to demonstrate that the political equivalent of oil and water can mix, and for the greater good of democracy than a bill that has Cruz and Ocasio-Cortez as authors?
This is an opportunity to do something that Washington lawmakers seldom do — hold each other to a higher standard of conduct. Maybe then we’ll get the best and brightest — people who understand the honor of public service without strings.
Both Cruz and Ocasio-Cortez have reputations as partisans with sharp tongues and sharper elbows that generally don’t make for across-the-aisle cooperation. If these two can cooperate on a higher calling, then the Washington swamp will have sprung the leak we’ve been waiting for.