3/11/2005

Democrats create gridlock on House LackofEthics panel

From the WaPo:
The House, facing new controversy about the travel of Majority Leader Tom DeLay and other lawmakers, was left last night with no mechanism for investigating improper behavior by its members when Democrats shut down the ethics committee by refusing to accept Republican rules changes that restrict the panel's power. Democrats said they do not plan to allow the ethics committee to organize until Republicans repeal a series of rule changes they pushed through in January, making it more difficult to initiate an investigation unless at least one Republican member supports the probe.
The 10-member House ethics panel, formally the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, is unique among committees in that it is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats are resisting rule changes the House made in January that make it more difficult to open investigations. Until January, a tie meant that an inquiry was automatically triggered, now a majority must approve it. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said her party is backing a resolution to "overturn what the Republicans did on that opening day and to make the ethics process indeed bipartisan again." In a clear reference to DeLay, Pelosi said at her weekly news conference: "In order for whatever accommodation they wanted to make for whoever they wanted to make it, there is no ethics process under the rules that they have put forth."

INSERT SARCASTIC SNORT HERE...Ron Bonjean, communications director for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), said it was unclear last night how the logjam could be broken.
"Democrats have chosen to shut down the ethics process," he said. "It's up to the House Democrats to put the ethics process above partisan politics."

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