It's pretty sweet to see the Republicans in the House retreat on yet another special rule they implemented to coddle and swaddle Tom DeLay, isn't it?
"I'm willing to step back," [House Speaker Denny] Hastert said after a closed-door meeting with members of the GOP rank and file at which he stressed the need to end the controversy.
"Now that we again will have bipartisan rules in place, we can begin to rebuild Americans trust in the ethics committee," said Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. "Members of the House must allow the ... committee to do its job without partisan rancor and ensure that its deliberations command the respect they deserve.
The Republican lawmakers had endured weeks of intense Democratic criticism — and hometown editorials — complaining that the GOP rule changes were an attempt to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay from further investigation.
DeLay, R-Texas, was admonished by the committee on three matters last year, and new questions have been raised about whether a lobbyist paid for some of his foreign travel in violation of the rules. DeLay has denied wrongdoing and has volunteered to appear before the ethics committee.
Republicans leaving their weekly meeting in the Capitol basement generally praised Hastert for pivoting on the issue. DeLay seemed annoyed at the crowd of reporters.
"You guys better get out of my way," he said. "Where's our security?"
Compare the reactions to the latest retreat from the Texas delegation:
"I don't know that I'm necessarily uncomfortable with the way things are right now," said Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Flower Mound. "The rules we put in are not bad rules."
Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, said Democrats had "politicized" the ethics committee, but added, "I think it's important the ethics committee get on with its work."
"I think we should do what's right and not respond to political news every day," said Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio. "This is not an issue that everyone is talking about at the fairs, in the malls, at the rotary clubs."
I said to him, 'You're the only one who can resolve this thing,'" said Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), recounting a conversation he had with Hastert last week. "He knows that. He knows it is in his lap."
LaHood said he also told a senior Hastert aide: "You have to pivot, you have to eat some crow, you've got to get it behind you."
Hastert, however, is expected to face some resistance today when, aides said, he plans to put his proposal before his GOP colleagues at their weekly strategy session.
LaHood said many Republican lawmakers were frustrated at the prospect of being asked — for the second time this year — to roll back a vote that had proved politically unpopular.
"People fell on their sword" when they rescinded the rule in January concerning possible indictments of GOP leaders, LaHood said. "Now it's the same thing."
He and others are concerned about negative publicity that the rule changes involving the ethics committee have generated, LaHood said.
"My hometown [newspaper] in Peoria has written three editorials about this — every editorial writer in the country is writing about this," he said.
UPDATE: When someone asks "Who's your daddy?", these guys know what the answer is:
The 20 Republicans who voted against the reversal included seven Texans: Reps. Joe Barton, of Ennis; Michael Burgess, of Flower Mound; John Carter, of Round Rock; John Culberson, of Houston; Louie Gohmert, of Tyler; Ted Poe, of Humble; and William "Mac" Thornberry, of Clarendon.