Today, the House Ethics Committee unanimously approved new rules. According to Chairman Jo Bonner, the changes conform committee rules to those of the House and resolve ambiguities. Two substantive changes pertaining to the committee itself are worth taking note.
First, the committee adopted a rule requiring its members to engage in “collegial discussions” at various steps in the investigative process. This appears to implement a recommendation made by the investigative subcommittee that recently completed the inquiry into Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA). That investigation, which lasted for three years, was plagued by partisan disputes that ultimately undermined and compromised the investigation. The committee also adopted amendments to speed up the adjudicatory hearing process.
Second, the Ethics Committee amended the requirement that an inquiry be initiated within 30 days after an officer or employee of the House is indicted or formally charged with criminal conduct by limiting the rule to members only. Apparently, this is designed to prevent the committee from having to expend resources investigating House employees for a variety of crimes unrelated to their positions in Congress. This means members of Congress will have the sole authority to discipline or terminate staff members charged with criminal conduct.