House Ethics Bill Pulled For Second Time

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has pulled a resolution to create a new "Office of Congressional Ethics" for a second time, and Democratic insiders now say the measure won't come to the floor until next week. Tuesday or Wednesday look like the most likely targets for the vote, according to Democratic leadership aides.

House Democratic insiders said Pelosi and the Democratic leadership are still short - by how much is up in the air - of the Democratic votes needed to pass the resolution, drafted by an task force headed by Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.). Some Democrats suggested it was "a significant margin," but Pelosi aides disputed that and predicted they would pass the Capuano resolution when it comes up next week. "We'll get the votes," promised one senior Democratic staffer.

Republicans are opposed to the proposal and are instead backing an alternative plan by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) to add former members to the ethics committee and allow outside groups to file complaints against lawmakers and staff.

If Democrats can't push the Capuano proposal through the House, it would be a major public-relations blow to Pelosi, who has promised to "drain the swamp" of corruption that engulfed the House under 12 years of GOP rule.

Republicans, of course, crowed about the Democrats' ethics setback on Wednesday. "Democrats in disarray, Democrats in disarray," joked on top House GOP staffer. "They couldn't manage a two-car funeral."

I have a story in tomorrow's edition of Politico regarding how little impact the OCE would have this year anyway, so it is not surprising to me that Pelosi and the Democratic leadership are having difficulties convincing their members to support this resolution.