WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House Republican leaders have decided to roll back a rule change that has left the ethics committee in a stalemate for weeks, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
Top House Republicans met on Tuesday to discuss restarting the committee and acknowledged that ethics disputes have taken a toll on the party's image, the newspaper said citing officials who participated in the talks.
The 10-member ethics committee—five Democrats and five Republicans—are deadlocked on a vote to adopt new Republican rules that would make it tougher to launch an ethics investigation.
The rules were approved in January by the Republican-led House after Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas was admonished by the ethics panel on three separate matters in 2004.
Republicans on the committee said they would open an investigation of DeLay's handling of overseas trips and gifts as soon as the impasse over the rules is broken, the Post said.
DeLay has denied any wrongdoing in taking two foreign trips paid for by outside groups.
House Majority Whip Roy Blunt told reporters after the Tuesday meeting that Republican leaders were working to resolve the ethics impasse as soon as possible, the newspaper reported.
It cited participants in the talks as saying that House Speaker Dennis Hastert had agreed to ask for the House to vote later this week on a package that would roll back the changes.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the package was certain to include a reversal of the rule that would automatically dismiss an ethics complaint after 45 days if the committee is deadlocked, according to the report.
A House Republican aide told the newspaper the automatic-dismissal rule was "the rule that is most commonly believed to be designed to protect Tom DeLay" and that it was "impossible to win the communications battle" on it.
I find it hard to believe that we currently have a rule which would automatically dismiss ethics charges after 45 days, deadlock or not. As for making it tougher to launch an investigation, that would seem to be a step in the wrong direction.