Gung Ho!

Main Entry: gung ho Pronunciation: 'g&[ng]-'hOFunction: adjective Etymology: Gung ho!, motto (interpreted as meaning "work together") adopted by certain U.S. marines, from Chinese (Beijing) gOnghé, short for ZhOngguó GOngyè Hézuò Shè Chinese Industrial Cooperative Society: extremely or overly zealous or enthusiastic

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Thursday, June 09, 2005

House Ethics Standstill Stalls DeLay Decision

Committee May Be Inactive for Months

By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer

A dispute between the parties has shut down the House ethics committee for the second time this year, and lawmakers said that it could be months -- and perhaps next year -- before the panel will decide whether to examine the activities of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) or others accused of violating restrictions on lobbying and travel.

DeLay has retained Richard Cullen of Richmond, a former U.S. attorney and Virginia attorney general, to represent him in dealings with the ethics committee and, if necessary, the Justice Department.


The latest logjam relates to a decision by Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) to try to name his 10-year chief of staff, Ed Cassidy, as a co-director of the committee staff. But the panel's top Democrat, Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (W.Va.), said the rules give Democrats a say in the appointment, and they oppose Cassidy. Democrats and Republicans each hold five of the committee's 10 seats, making it the only House panel on which Democrats can block majority-party actions.

The staffing dispute concerns a rule of the ethics panel governing the hiring of the committee staff. The rule specifies that the staff will be nonpartisan and chosen by a majority vote of the committee. But in what Democrats consider an effort to circumvent that requirement, Hastings has cited another provision of the rule that allows the chairman and ranking minority member to each name one staff member without the other side's concurrence.

Hastings's proposal would give equal authority to his and Mollohan's designated co-directors.

Mollohan said in an interview that he will not compromise, and that for Republicans to get what they are demanding, they will have to get Congress to change the rule. "All you need is literacy to understand this rule," he said. "I cannot make it complicated."

But DeLay said at a news conference yesterday that Democrats were politicizing the ethics process by trying to push the probe into next year as part of a strategy to use ethics as an issue in the midterm elections.

"They don't want an ethics committee," he said. "They would like to drag this out and have me and others before the ethics committee in an election year. . . . Yet no one seems to want to notice."


Mollohan, a corporate lawyer whose father was a congressman from West Virginia for 18 years, said that the possibility of a political motivation for the stalemate "has not occurred to me," and that the accusation "says more about the people who are suggesting it than it does about me."

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said: "Democrats want to follow the rules; Republicans don't."

Semper Fi


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