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WASHINGTON - House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today regarding the Republican retreat on the partisan ethics rules they pushed through the House earlier this year:
"The restoration of the bipartisan ethics rules - which were originally adopted in 1997 and functioned well in every Congress since then – is long overdue.
"And, I believe that it was inevitable.
"Today is not a day for those of us on the Democratic side of the aisle to gloat.
"However, it is a day for those who instigated and supported these partisan rule changes in January to recognize that a serious mistake in judgment was made.
"As the former Chairman of the Ethics Committee, Mr. Hefley, stated on this issue two weeks ago: 'We can’t make rule changes unilaterally. We’ve never made rules unilaterally. The way it was done was wrong.'
"Today, the Speaker recognizes the validity of that statement and seeks to rectify this error.
"However, let me say as clearly as I can: This legislation marks a beginning, not an ending. It is, in reality, a procedural prerequisite to a real, meaningful ethics process that ensures the American people of the integrity of this great institution.
"In the last several months, a number of issues have become public that warrant an inquiry by the Ethics Committee. It is imperative, now, that the Committee organize as soon as practicable so that it may conduct its important business.
"Let me also urge the Chairman and Ranking Member to honor the letter and intent of the 1997 rules package by agreeing to hire a non-partisan professional staff. Non-partisanship is critical to the proper functioning of the Committee, and partisan staffers should not be involved in this process.
"The Ethics Committee is the only mechanism that this institution has to police itself. Today, we have taken a vital step in restoring procedural vitality to our ethics process and ensuring public confidence in this institution."