GOP to Reverse Ethics Rule Blocking New DeLay ProbeJanuary Change Led Democrats to Shut Down Panel
By Mike AllenWashington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 27, 2005; Page A01
House Republican leaders, acknowledging that ethics disputes are taking a heavy toll on the party's image, decided yesterday to rescind a controversial rule change that led to the three-month shutdown of the ethics committee, according to officials who participated in the talks.
Republicans touched off a political uproar in January by changing a rule that had required the ethics committee to continue considering a complaint against a House member if there was a deadlock between the committee's five Republicans and five Democrats. The January change reversed this, calling for automatic dismissal of an ethics complaint when a deadlock occurs.
Democrats rebelled against that and other changes -- saying Republicans were trying to protect House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) from further ethics investigations -- and blocked the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, as the ethics panel is officially known, from organizing for the new Congress.
A congressional aide said that changing the rules will mean "a couple of great days for Democrats" but that Republicans have calculated this will deny them long-term use of the ethics issue heading into next year's midterm elections
It's pretty clear that the GOP wants to neutralize the DeLay ethics issues long before the mid-term elections and from watching Faux News it's pretty clear that this rule change is a weapon that cuts both ways. They will probably investigate and sanitize DeLay (just as they did three times last year), then they'll go after Stephanie Tubbs-Johnson, Sheila Jackson Lee and Nancy Pelosi for a similar, but far less credible, ethics violation.