Tuesday, January 04, 2005

House Party

"A house divided against itself cannot stand". This was the most prominent phrase in an Abraham Lincoln speech on June 16, 1858, accepting the Republican nomination for Senate (for the state of Illinois). Today welcomes the 109th session of Congress, and the house is divided—particularly the side that disproportionately houses the Republican Majority.

House Republican leaders last night abandoned a proposal to loosen rules governing members' ethical conduct, as they yielded to pressure from rank-and-file lawmakers concerned that the party was sending the wrong message.

The proposal would have made it more difficult for lawmakers to discipline a colleague for unethical behavior and would have allowed Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) to keep his post if he is indicted by a Texas grand jury that is looking into his campaign finance practices

The sudden reversal came amid growing indications of dissension within the GOP. Just before House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's office announced that the measures were being dropped, the chairman of the House ethics committee issued an unusual statement denouncing the leadership's plan.

Ethics rules that were instituted to avoid abuses of power—at a time when the Republicans were beret of it—are now being rescinded in light of the Republican majority in both the House and Senate. The ambitions of grandeur that many cocksure Republicans have recently acquired need not be constrained by rules—or ethics, for that matter. Simply take the example of Tom DeLay(R-Tex.)

The other proposed rule change abandoned by the Republicans last night would have negated an ethics rule that was used last year as the basis for admonishing DeLay three times -- for hosting a golf fundraiser for energy lobbyists before House consideration of the energy bill, for offering to endorse the political campaign of a lawmaker's son in exchange for the lawmaker's vote on Medicare legislation, and for enlisting Federal Aviation Administration officials to help track down Democratic Texas lawmakers who were trying to foil the redistricting plan.

Keep in mind, the rules aren't being changed as an exercise in moral correction; rather, the likelihood of DeLay being indicted have diminished considerably, leaving him the requisite wiggle room to rationalize his transgressions and remain on as House Majority leader.

Via. WaPo

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