WASHINGTON, D.C. - Should I laugh or should I cry? It’s not just the title of a 1981 song by ABBA – it’s how you sometimes feel when something is either so absurd or so maddening or so something that you’re just not sure how to react. We here at DecodeDC think politics and the actions of those who play in the political arena are filled with laugh or cry moments. We hope you do too.
In 2007, Congress passed a law that required mandatory ethics training for all Senators and their staffs, as well as House staffers, every year. The one group the law did not apply to – House members.
There are 675 pages of ethics rules governing the House, on everything from a review of campaign finance laws, to the prohibition on accepting gifts from lobbyists, member travel and avoiding conflicts of interest.
One look at the list of pending cases for the House Ethics committee and a refresher course of what’s right and wrong doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.
Reps. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., Tom Petri, R-Wis., Tim Bishop, D. N.Y., and Paul Broun, R-Ga.—all of whom are leaving Congress—as well as Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., Aaron Schock, R-Ill., Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rogers, R-Wash., Bobby Rush, D-Ill., and Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky.”
In a rare case of bipartisanship, two lawmakers, David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Scott Rigell, R-Va., are trying to change the situation. In July, they introduced The Ensuring Trust and Honorability In Congressional Standards (ETHICS) Act that would require all members to take ethics training.
Last week, they re-upped their request. In the letter to the House Rules Committee, the two lawmakers wrote:
“It is our belief that a change in House Rules will help increase understanding and reduce confusion of the rules, help decrease the number of future ethics violations by Members, and, most importantly, help restore the public’s faith and trust in Congress.”