House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters Thursday that he plans to form a bipartisan panel to write a revised code of conduct for all House members — in the wake of some lawmakers either being removed or dropping out from congressional committees.
McCarthy's announcement immediately followed the House decision to jettison Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., from the Foreign Affairs Committee by a 218-211 vote, after her controversial comments from previous years had been deemed antisemitic.
"I'm going to put a group of Democrats that [House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.] will select and a group of Republicans, and we'll work to come and clarify the rules and pass something for not only this Congress, but future Congresses, as well," McCarthy said during a Capitol press conference.
According to The Hill, the House's current code of conduct largely focuses on financial regulations. It also contains a vague statement, that members "must behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House."
Last week, McCarthy exercised his speakership power and personally removed Democrat Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell of California from the House Intelligence Committee. After doing so, McCarthy offered a blistering assessment of the pair's conduct from previous years while speaking to the media.
And earlier this week, Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., recused himself from committee assignments, amid criticism over embellishing his personal resume and professional track record, prior to winning his congressional seat in the November midterms.
Counting the Schiff-Swalwell and Omar disputes, this marked the third time in two years the House has voted to strip lawmakers of committee assignments: In 2021, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., lost their panel designations at the hands of then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Regarding the Omar vote from Thursday, three Republicans — Reps. Victoria Spartz of Indiana, Nancy Mace of South Carolina, and Ken Buck of Colorado — ended up siding with the other GOP voters, despite reports to the contrary leading into that tally.
On Thursday, McCarthy said Mace and Buck would be part of the bipartisan panel writing the House's updated code of conduct.
"I don't know the definition exactly what all that's going to mean. I think that should be clear," said McCarthy. "So if there is a concern, it's not tit for tat. But I think in moving forward, every single member of Congress has a responsibility to how they carry themselves."
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