Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Are the Republicans learning shame? Allegations of ethical impropriety trail human dungheap Tom DeLay like the wiggly stink lines that emanate from cartoon skunks (your scandal du jour for Tuesday, April 26: lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who picked up the tab for DeLay's trip to Great Britain in violation of House rules, also showered DeLay staffers with illegal gifts). Even GOP constituents must be wrinkling their noses in disgust, because Rep. DeLay's colleagues, who have for so long inhaled his gamy effluvium as if it were Chanel No. 5, are finally examining the soles of their shoes and reaching for the garden hose:
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 . . . .
The vote planned for later this week will mark the second time in four months that House Republicans have changed a rule but then changed it back under public pressure because the changes were perceived as designed to protect DeLay.
Last November, Republicans rewrote an 11-year-old party rule that required a party leader to step aside if indicted, and instead made it possible for such a leader to maintain the party position.