Blue Dog Coalition Endorses Hill's Ethics Bill
(Washington, DC) - On June 28, 2007 members of the fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition announced their endorsement of Congressman Baron Hill's House Ethics Commission Establishment Act of 2007, H.R. 1754, a bill that would bring about necessary ethics reform through the creation of an independent ethics commission made up of former Members of Congress. Hill's ethics legislation was overwhelmingly agreed upon and adopted as an official Blue Dog Coalition position.
"I am very pleased that this fine group of distinguished Members of Congress has endorsed my bill to spur real ethics reform," Hill said. "I spoke often on the campaign trail about the need for an overhaul of the process of investigating members of the House of Representatives for ethics violations, and I truly believe my bill is the best approach to bringing about such reforms."
"We all want an ethics process that is effective," said Rep. John Tanner (D-TN), founding member of the Blue Dog Coalition. "Many of us feel Baron has designed a solid, workable approach toward a responsible House ethics reform."
"The Blue Dogs are strongly committed to Rep. Baron Hill in his effort to bring real and meaningful ethics reform to Congress," said Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications. "This is an issue that is important to the American people, and with the leadership of Rep. Hill, I am confident that we will pass legislation which will ensure honesty, transparency and accountability in the nation's Capitol."
The House Ethics Commission Establishment Act, H.R. 1754, would create an independent Ethics Committee comprised of 12 former Members of Congress - six Republicans and six Democrats - who are not federal lobbyists. This Commission will have the authority to investigate complaints of possible ethics violations by Members of Congress, and present those findings and suggested penalties to the U.S. House of Representatives. The House would then vote on the Commission's recommendation. Any disciplinary actions suggested by the Ethics Commission must receive a majority vote by the full membership of the U.S. House in order to take effect.
"I applaud Baron Hill for answering the call of his constituents and the American people and working to bring accountability back to Washington," said Blue Dog Co-Chair for Administration Congressman Allen Boyd (D-FL). "This commission will allow respected former Members to explore any potential ethics violations judiciously without impeding us from doing the job we were elected to do-the work of the American people."
"It's very difficult for Members to investigate their colleagues," Hill said. "Former Members doing the investigating makes for a better and more removed perspective. We need to make sure reported ethics violations are investigated thoroughly and receive the time and attention they warrant. I know I would feel much better about our ethics enforcement if people like Lee Hamilton were investigating allegations of misconduct. Congress must create an Independent House Ethics Commission to prove to citizens that we are serious about ensuring that reported ethics violations are investigated thoroughly and receive the time and attention they warrant."
H.R. 1754 currently has 59 cosponsors and is pending before the House Rules Committee.