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House to weigh ethics rules

Plan would lower conduct standard

WASHINGTON -- Republican leaders are considering a change in House ethics rules that could make it harder to discipline lawmakers.

The proposal being circulated among House Republicans would end a general rule against any behavior that might bring ''discredit" on the chamber, according to House Republican and Democratic leadership aides.

House members would be held to a narrower standard of behavior in keeping with the law, the House's rules, and its ethics guidelines.

Other proposed changes to the ethics committee's rules being circulated in a ''Dear Colleague" letter from the House rules chairman, David Dreier, Republican of California, would let House members respond to any admonishment before a letter goes out from the committee, and would end an investigation if there is a tie vote.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Republican of Illinois, plans to bring the proposal before a meeting of all House Republicans next week ''and see what they think," said his spokesman, John Feehery.

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