The Washington Post incorrectly reported Thursday that the House Democratic Caucus had approved a measure requiring that, within 30 days after Rep. Charles Diggs (D-Mich.) had exhausted his appeal on conviction of taking kickbacks from his staff, the Committee on Standards of Official conduct must send to the House floor a resolution to expel Diggs. An expulsion resolution must be introduced once the conviction becomes final, but the committee can recommend "whatever it deems appropriate."
The House Democratic Caucus refused yesterday to tell convicted Rep. Charles Diggs (D-Mich.) he should refrain from voting in committee or on the House floor while his appeals are pending.
Instead, the caucus voted to tell the Committee on Standards off Official Conduct to bring to the floor a motion to expel Diggs from the House within 30 days after his appeals are exhausted.
Freshman Republican Newt Gingrich of Georgia intends to bring an expulsion motion to the floor today, objecting to the fact that Diggs voted yesterday on the debt-limit bill.
Gingrich said convicted felons should not be allowed to vote in Congress until their prison sentences have been completed.
The House Democratic leadership may try to table Gingrich's motion and referit to the ethics committee.
Diggs has been convicted on 29 counts of taking salary kickbacks from his staff and has been sentenced to three years in prison. The sentence has been postponed until his appeals are exhausted.
A House rule says that a convicted felon should not vote in committee or on the floor until he is cleared or reelected.
Diggs refrained from voting in the last days of the 95th Congress after he was convicted last year, but he was reelected in November. In a letter to Gingrich, Diggs said he now intends to exercise his right to vote.
Rep. Peter Kostmayer (D-Pa.) proposed at the caucus meeting that the rule be changed to say that a member, even if reelected, should not vote until he has served his sentence and paid his fines.
But Reps. Frank Thompson (D-N.J.) and Bob Eckhardt (D-Tex.) argued that any move to prevent Diggs from voting could unduly deprive his district of representation and might not be constitutional.
Eckhardt argued that blocking him from voting would amount to "de facto expulsion" and said if members were concerned, they should vote to expel Diggs once his appeals are exhausted.
Kostmayer said later that the Democrats had decided to "place the interests of the district above the interests of the country. They should consider the concerns of the entire country, not just his district." Kostayer's proposal was rejected by voice vote.
The caucus also rejected a resolution by Rep. Henry Gonzalez (D-Tex.) that would prevent House members from creating a political action fund or using excess campaign funds fro the benefit of another House member, unless it was a party or leadership fund.
Gonzalez was upset that Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) gave campaign money to members of the House Commerce Committee while he was engaged in a close race for a health subcommittee chairmanship on that committee.