WASHINGTON (AP) _ House Republican leaders said Wednesday the chamber's ethics committee needs to issue clear rules on travel by members following controversy over the financing of trips by Majority Leader Tom DeLay and others.

DeLay, R-Texas, and Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said lawmakers need better guidance.

The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that lobbyist Jack Abramoff initially paid travel expenses for DeLay and some of his aides as well as for some Democratic lawmakers.

While House members and employees are barred from accepting trip expenses from lobbyists, DeLay and others said they were not aware that Abramoff was paying the bill.

Abramoff, who had ties with numerous members of Congress and DeLay, is now under federal investigation for his representation of Indian tribes with casinos.

DeLay told reporters, ``I would prefer that the ethics committee set up a process by which a member can go to them and submit a proposed invitation on a trip _ whether it be foreign or domestic _ and the ethics committee approve or disapprove it.''

``Then everybody knows what is proper and isn't proper. I think that is the best way to go. I'm not suggesting that. I'm not pushing it. I'm asking the ethics committee to look at this as a problem for the institution.''

Hastert said, ``I think there needs to be real guidance by the committee about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.'' I think we're going to take a look at it.''