The House yesterday voted, 205 to 197, to kill a Republican-led move to expel convicted Rep. Charles C. Diggs Jr. (D.Mich.).
The expulsion motion was made by freshman Rep. Daniel E. Lungren (R-Calif.). Majority Whip John Brademas (D-Ind.) immediately moved to table the motion, which precludes debate. On the tabling, motion 63 Democrats and 134 republicans voted to take up the expulsion issue while 193 Democrats and 12 Republicans voted against it.
The House will take up today a recommendation by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct that Diggs be censured. The committee unanimously recommended censure after Diggs pleaded guilty to misusing his clerk-hire allowance to pay his personal expenses, agreed to make restitution and apologized to his colleagues at the same time members consider censure.
Lungren said he had asked House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) to have the Rules Committee make an expulsion vote in order today, but O'Neill refused.
Lungren said Diggs admitted guilt, wiping out the argument that the House should wait until Digg's appeal of his conviction and three-year sentence is completed.
Dannemeyer said he was pressing for expulsion because "most American people believe you shouldn't be able to steal $40,000 and keep your job.
"His presence gives offense to the good order, dignity and public esteem of the House. His presence heaps public scorn on the institution," Dannemeyer said.
Lungrem said the ethics committee action "appears to have been a plea bargain" and added the House should have another choice.
It takes a two-thirds vote to expel a member from the House, and Lugren agreed after yesterday's vote, the votes probably were not there to expel Diggs.
Diggs was convicted last year of taking salary kickbacks from his staff. He was reelected after his conviction. The House ethics committee began investigating the Diggs case early this year, and brought charges but on June 29 Diggs pleaded guilty to some of the charges, promised restitution and accepted a censure resolution. Censure carries no penalty except that a member must stand in the well of the House while censure is read.
Diggs would be only the second member censured this century. The last time was in 1921, when Texas Democrat Thomas L Blanton was censured for putting "obscene material" in the Congressional Record.
Diggs has agreed to repay $40,031.66 in the form of an interest bearing promissory note. Upon execution of the note, $500 a month will be deducted from Digg's salary and applied to the debt.