New GOP House rules would strip indicted lawmakers of committee spots, leadership roles

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House Republicans are proposing new party rules for the chamber that would force indicted members of Congress to relinquish their committee assignments and leadership positions.

The revisions, first reported Saturday in POLITICO’s Playbook, mandate that if a Republican representative is indicted "for a felony for which a sentence of two or more years imprisonment may be imposed," that member must “submit his or her resignation from any such committees to the House promptly.”

The new rules also require members of House GOP leadership to “step aside” if indicted for a similar felony. The changes are part of a package of rules GOP lawmakers will vote on next week.

The move would most immediately affect the legislative futures of Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.). Both lawmakers — who were early endorsers of President Donald Trump’s 2016 bid for the White House — indicted in August, but respectively won additional two-year terms in the House in Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Collins and his son were charged as part of an insider trading scheme, and the third-term congressman from the Buffalo area faces multiple counts of securities fraud, as well as charges of wire fraud and lying to investigators.

Hunter and his wife are accused of improperly using hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars as a personal slush fund for expenses including family vacations and dental work. The five-term incumbent is also accused of filing false campaign reports and wire fraud.

The new rules would give House Republicans statutory powers in their efforts to oust indicted lawmakers from leadership positions within the chamber, and could lead to fewer public clashes between House GOP leaders and rank-and-file members facing legal troubles.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in August requested that Hunter surrender his committee posts following his indictment, including his spot on the House Armed Services Committee. The California congressman initially refused, but later told Ryan he would step down amid pressure from the caucus and a plan by the Speaker’s office to force Hunter out via vote by a special House panel.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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