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US House passes resolution to create independent ethics panel

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] Tuesday voted 229-182 [roll call] to pass a resolution [HRES 895 materials] creating an independent ethics panel to investigate allegations of malfeasance against House lawmakers. The Office of Congressional Ethics will consist of six non-House members of "exceptional public standing." This represents the first time that the House has delegated the authority to investigate alleged ethics violations to non-House members. Supporters said that the independent panel would help restore public confidence, while opponents worried that it would encourage frivolous investigations. The New York Times has more.

Government watchdog groups praised the outcome of the vote, saying that it showed the House was serious about dealing with ethics violations. Common Cause [advocacy website] called the move a "tremendous improvement to the current system," and noted that the panel would help to improve the House's image [press release] after a series of corruption scandals, including those involving disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former Rep. Randall "Duke" Cunningham [JURIST news archives].

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