Gingrich Faces Reprimand, $300,000 Penalty -- Jan. 17, 1997
Final Report Due On Gingrich Case -- Jan. 16, 1997
House Ethics Committee Democrat To Step Aside -- Jan. 14, 1997
Partisan Wrangling Continues Over Gingrich Ethics Hearings -- Jan. 12, 1997
House Punishes Gingrich With Reprimand, Penalty
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Jan. 21) -- On a 395-28 vote, the House this afternoon approved the ethics committee's recommendation to reprimand Speaker Newt Gingrich and assess him costs of $300,000. Gingrich is the first speaker in history to be disciplined by the House.
"Today, we conclude this case by imposing a heavy penalty on the leader of this House," said ethics committee chairman Nancy L. Johnson (R-Conn.). "It is a tough penalty, unprecedented and appropriate."
The vote followed two hours of speeches by members of the ethics committee to the full House. Most of them agreed with the recommendation, but Democrats tried to explain that the punishment was very light considering the severity of Gingrich's offenses, while Republicans countered the speaker's offenses just barely justified his punishment.
A dissenting voice belonged to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who last week was the only one of eight voting members of the ethics panel to oppose the Gingrich recommendation. "My conclusion," Smith said today on the House floor, "is that the penalty that has been assessed by the ethics committee is way too severe, when you look at the actual findings of the committee, and when you look at the precedent that has been established by this House."
House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) denounced the committee's recommendation. "I will not vote to reprimand Newt Gingrich for transgressions that in the past have openly warranted either warnings or letters of reproval from the ethics committee." Delay said House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) had committed similar misdeeds, but the ethics panel simply wrote him a letter.
President Bill Clinton declined to comment on the vote. "The House should do its business and then we should get back to the people's business," he said.
At the end of the debate, Johnson implored House members to move past the Gingrich matter and to learn from the experience. "Each member of this House must take personal responsibility to restore civility and mutual respect to our deliberations," she said. "The American people are bone-tired of partisanship. They want us to work together, and I believe most members of this House are yearning to return to the deliberative process that alone produces good public policy.
"We were elected Republicans and Democrats, but the core of democracy is building bipartisan consensus by maturing the best ideas from both parties into responsible, effective solutions," Johnson said.
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