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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement this afternoon regarding the proposal on ethics rules by the new Chairman of the Ethics Committee, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA):
“This proposal on the ethics process by the Republican leadership is a charade and an absolute non-starter with Democrats, who reject it out of hand. It is a calculated attempt to divert attention from the fact that the Republican Majority has neutered the Ethics Committee in the House by imposing partisan rules that hamstring any meaningful inquiry, sacking the former Chairman and two other Republican Members of the Committee, and firing non-partisan professional staffers.
“While the American people are surely interested to see that Tom DeLay’s fellow Republicans agree that his behavior demands investigation, this offer does not address the fact that Republicans are in a position to block other investigations on a party line vote. This issue is bigger than the Majority Leader, it is about the integrity of the entire House now and in the future.
“In addition, Rep. Hastings’s personal assurances on ethics rules and practices – even if put in writing – cannot be the basis for resolving the Republican roadblock on the ethics process. The House ethics process should be based on bipartisan compromise that is supported by both parties, not on personal agreements between individuals that can be made irrelevant by a change of heart or chairmanship.
“The one true thing that this proposal demonstrates is that the Republican leadership is worried that the American people see right through its empty excuse for gutting the ethics process. They are starting to feel the heat for bypassing the Ethics Committee itself and revoking the bipartisan ethics rules that had served this institution and its Members well since 1997.
“The Democratic position on this issue is crystal clear: We should reinstate the bipartisan ethics rules as called for in the Mollohan-Hefley bill, or at the very least the Speaker ought to appoint a bipartisan task force to examine ethics rule changes and report back to the Members.”