- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 18, 2002

House rules forbid representatives from uttering the word "Senate" or addressing the other chamber's activities, and there is no rule forbidding them from dating their interns.
But an unusual combination of Republicans and Democrats has joined forces in hopes of reversing the situation.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a conservative California Republican, has joined with prominent liberal Democratic member and leading parlimentarian Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, to allow them to note Senate business while speaking on the House floor.
Mr. Rohrabacher called the rule a "strange anomaly" that is a "serious deprivation of the right of members to freely debate the questions of the day on the House floor."
Rep. Scott McInnis, Colorado Republican, and Rep. Brian Baird, Washington Democrat, want to create a dating rule to prohibit romantic or sexual relationships with House interns.
"I have absolutely no desire to impose morality on fellow members," Mr. McInnis and Mr. Baird said in a joint statement to the House Rules Committee.
"However, if governing and government are about accountability, I find it absolutely appropriate to set clear boundaries for our conduct similar to that which other institutions across our nation have already adopted in their respective codes of conduct," the congressmen said.
The rule was proposed in response to the affair between Rep. Gary A. Condit, California Democrat, and Chandra Levy, an intern at the Bureau of Prisons whose killing last year has not been solved. The affair came to light during the investigation and embarrassed lawmakers, who quickly distanced themselves from Mr. Condit. He was defeated earlier this year in a Democratic primary.
As the second session of the 107th Congress comes to a close, the Rules Committee is hearing suggested rules changes to be considered at the beginning of the 108th session.
Jo Powers, committee spokeswoman, said that testimony given Thursday is the first step in the process, and that it is too early to tell whether there is widespread support for either rule.
The intern rule was submitted in writing, but Mr. Rohrabacher made a personal appeal to the committee.
"Most members found it to be an interesting and compelling argument," she said.
Mr. Rohrabacher said yesterday that the rule change would have a positive effect on the process.
"This will not lead to name-calling between the Houses but will better coordination between the houses, and they will be held accountable," Mr. Rohrabacher said.
Asked what his first message to the Senate would be, Mr. Rohrabacher said it would concern lack of action on House-passed measures. Those measures include the budget, welfare reform, prescription drugs, pension security, permanent tax cuts, and a ban on partial-birth abortion.


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