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House Speaker Ready to Scrap Ethics Rules

April 27, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) _ House Speaker Dennis Hastert, leading a Republican retreat, said Wednesday he stands ready to scrap controversial new ethics rules, possibly by day’s end.

``I’m willing to step back,″ Hastert told reporters after a closed-door meeting with members of the GOP rank and file.

Later, in a brief Capitol interview, he said he expected the full House to vote on reversing the rules. Asked whether that would take place later in the day, he replied, ``I hope so.″

Democrats charge that rules changes pushed through the House by Republicans earlier this year were designed to shelter Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and have stopped the ethics committee from conducting business in retaliation. The powerful Texan was admonished by the panel three times last year and faces scrutiny this year over overseas travel.

Hastert drew little dissent from members of his rank and file at the closed-door meeting.

Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill., said the speaker told fellow Republicans it was important to resolve the ethics committee deadlock because it was becoming a distraction for the party at a time when it is attempting to accomplish its legislative goals.

He praised Hastert for being willing to ``pivot″ on the issue.

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