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House GOP Moves to End Ethics Stalemate With Vote on Rules Changes

House Republicans emerged from a Conference meeting this morning resolved to reverse a series of controversial ethics rules changes made in January.

Later today or early tomorrow, the House will hold one up-or-down vote encompassing all three of the ethics changes about which Democrats have complained. GOP sources said they expected most Republicans to vote with Democrats to reverse the changes, meaning that the chamber will essentially revert to the rules used in the 108th Congress.

Though he defended the substance of the changes that were originally drafted by his office, Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) acknowledged after the Conference that the “process” had been problematic.

“I’m willing to step back,” Hastert said, adding that he planned to send a letter to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) this afternoon outlining his next steps on the ethics issue.

If Democrats are satisfied with Hastert’s actions, they will likely allow the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to finally organize for this Congress. Ethics Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) has already pledged to empanel an investigative subcommittee to probe the activities of Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

— Ben Pershing

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