House To Vote On New Ethics Office Proposal On Tuesday

House Democratic leaders plan a Tuesday vote on resolution to create a new "Office of Congressional Ethics."

The Rules Committee marked up the resolution, drafted by a special task force led by Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), during a session this evening.

Republicans object to the Capuano plan, which calls for a six-person board to run the new ethics office. GOP leaders want to offer an alternative proposal by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) that would add four former members to the House ethics committee, but Democrats are not expected to permit that vote.

More updates will folllow after the Rules Committee markup.

Update - The Rules Committee, on a voice vote approved a rule to consider the Capuano resolution, including the recent "tweaks" to the proposal that Capuano introduced, clearing the resolution for floor action by the House. on Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) did not attend the markup.

Democrats rejected several attempts by GOP Rep. David Dreier (Calif.), Doc Hastings (Wash.) and Pete Sessions (Texas) to amend the rule. These rejected amendments, all voted down on a 8-4 count, would have allowed votes on the Smith proposal, as well as both the Smith alternative and a third, bipartisan proposal by Reps. Baron Hill (D-Ind.) and Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), at the same time the House was considering the Capuano proposal. Hill and Wamp have proposed the creation of a "House Ethics Commission" made up of a bipartisan group of 12 current and former lawmakers to oversee ethics investigations, with the new commission going into effect at the start of the 111th Congress.

Sessions sought to additional time to debate the Capuano resolution beyond the allotted one hour of debate on the rule.

Dreier objected repeatedly to the format for the rule, which will revise underlying House ethics rules, arguing that lawmakers needed more time to consider the issue. The California Republican said the changes proposed by Capuano to his original plan actually make it more troublesome, at least in his view.

"In some ways, I see what we have before us is even worse," Dreier complained.
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