Cicilline, Rigell Seek Mandatory Ethics Training for Members of Congress

Jul 17, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representatives David N. Cicilline (D-RI) and Scott Rigell (R-VA) Monday introduced the Ensuring Trust and Honorability In Congressional Standards (ETHICS) Act, bipartisan legislation that would require all Members of the House of Representatives to undergo mandatory ethics training.

In 2007, the U.S. Senate passed the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, which legally required Senators and their staff to take “ongoing” ethics training, in response to a culture of corruption on Capitol Hill that led to the convictions of former Representative Bob Ney and lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Despite passing the House with nearly unanimous bipartisan support, the mandatory ethics training provisions in the bill only applied to the Senate. The ETHICS Act would amend and expand current law to require House Members to take annual ethics training. 

"Members of Congress should not be exempt from ethics training and enacting this requirement will help restore the public’s confidence in Congress. At a minimum we should receive the same ethics training as senior staff,” said Cicilline, a member of the House Judiciary Committee. “Serving in Congress is an honor and a privilege, and it’s important to provide ethics training to Members of Congress to prevent violations of the public trust and send a strong signal to those we represent that Members of Congress work for them and not for themselves.”

“During my time as a young Marine at Parris Island, I knew there was nothing those drill instructors asked us to do that they did not first do themselves. That is leadership by example and it is desperately needed here in Washington. As a starting point, Members of Congress must be held accountable to the same ethical training standards required of their staff. This bipartisan, common sense reform will ensure that all Senators and Representatives meet that obligation,” said Rep. Scott Rigell (VA-02).

Currently, all Senators, Senate staff, and House staff are required to take ethics training every year. Specifically, the ETHICS Act would make ethics training and awareness programs mandatory for House Members, Delegates and the Resident Commissioner of the House of Representatives beginning January 3, 2015 and:

  • Training will be completed no later than 60 days after starting service, and;
  • Training will be completed during each new session of  Congress beginning with the 1st session of the 114th Congress.