Saturday, January 01, 2005

New year - New rules... at least your local Republican Congressman is hoping that will be the case.

Right now members of the House of Representatives are expected to not only obey the laws that rest of us have to follow, but to also not act in any way that will embarrass the House or their nation. The House Code of Official Conduct, Rule XXIII, Clause 1, specifically states that, "A member... officer or employee of the House shall conduct himself at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House."

But, your new Republican majority sees that provision as old fashioned and incidental to their job, and are proposing that it be eliminated for the next session as part of a broader streamlining of the House Rules.

According to Jennifer Crider, spokeswoman for House Democratic Leader (and Bay Area Rep) Nancy Pelosi, the change, which would make it more difficult to discipline misbehaving Reps, would also "lower the standard of official conduct, and if that's the case, it would be the first time that it has been done since 1968, and it would be done on a completely partisan basis." The Democrats - or at least the few that are left with any spine - are going to try to fight this change.

The first recorded disciplinary action against a House Member occurred in 1798, when a Vermont lawmaker spat on a Connecticut colleague during a vote. Despite an apology letter, the Rules Committee nearly expelled the offender, but fell two votes shy.

* Washington Post
* Richmond Times Dispatch
* Boston Globe

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