Briefs: House panel votes to tighten travel rules

Briefs from around the nation.

Compiled from Times wires
Published May 12, 2006

WASHINGTON - The House ethics committee Thursday offered to provide advance approval of lawmakers' special interest trips, a move to curb travel abuses that have ensnared two lawmakers in federal investigations.

The program is voluntary now, but could be permanent under a bill headed to House and Senate negotiators.

For lawmakers to have their trips blessed in advance by the ethics committee, the private entities paying for the travel would have to disclose considerable advance information to the committee.

Lawmakers have made congressional ethics a focus, in part because two prominent Republicans - former Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas and Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio - took trips financed by ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Report: House member faces inquiry

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles has opened an investigation into House Appropriations Committee chairman Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., and his dealings with a lobbyist with connections to disgraced former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, the Associated Press reported. The news agency did not identify the source of the report. Lewis denied any wrongdoing.

"I am angered and frustrated by anonymous sources, either inside or out of the Justice Department, who would imply to journalists that an investigation has been launched when no suggestion has been made that an investigation is needed," Lewis said.

Bill would add two seats to House

WASHINGTON - Two centuries after lawmakers arrived in the federal city and nearly a hundred years after the last expansion of Congress, a bipartisan group of House members says it's time to give residents of the nation's capital a vote there.

The legislation balances the proposed addition of what would be a solidly Democratic D.C. seat with a new seat for Utah, a state that voted 71 percent for President Bush in 2004.