One of the two houses of the U.S. Congress, namely the Senate, is a vast body of the state legislature, whose range of responsibilities includes a grandiose number of tasks. This is fully justified by the fact that the 177th Congress consists of 24 specialized committees, each of which has its vector of direction for the implementation of managerial and regulatory functions. Thus, one of the most interesting committees — in the author’s opinion — is the Ethics Committee. The choice of this body is due to the abstractness of the responsibilities it has because, while other committees have a high practical value and solve real problems, the Ethics Committee examines the ethical aspects of the activities of senators and the Senate as a whole. It is important to emphasize that the Ethics Committee should not be seen as a minor, unimportant division of the Senate, for even abstract problems require the special attention of state power.
The functional responsibilities of the Ethics Committee include three important vectors. First, the Committee manages the procedures for disclosure of the Senate financial policy (SCE). Second, the Committee is engaged in an educational function, providing ethics advice to members of the Senate, officers, and other employees. A third task of the Committee is to regulate cases of inappropriate and unethical behavior by officials. Thus, the overall responsibility of the Ethics Committee boils down to the management of ethics violations — and, therefore, the establishment and maintenance of those rules — in the upper house of Congress.
This Committee is selective, and by the 117th Congress has only six members. According to congressional rules, three must be a Democrat, and three more must be a Republican. These requirements are still valid for 2021, as the Committee consists of three Republicans — James Lankford, Jim Risch, Deb Fischer — and three Democrats: Chris Coons, Brian Schatz, Jeanne Shaheen. Thus, there are only two women and four men. Since the president-elect, Joe Biden, is a member of the Democratic Party, the Ethics Committee is chaired by Koons, also a party member. The impartiality of the Committee’s policy is also ensured by the choice of a vice-chairman from the minority party, the Republican Party: Lankford fulfills this role. The states represented in this caucus include Delaware, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Idaho, and Nebraska. None of the senators represent Nevada, and none of these six members of Congress have been previously acquainted with the author’s politics. Thus, none of these senators were known to the author of this paper.
The specific focus of the Committee draws particular attention because, as previously argued, the range of responsibility is very abstract. The behavior and intentions of the officials are not something tangible, but it is crucial for people at this level to show the most respectful, tolerant patterns. It is also noteworthy that the Committees impose special restrictions on the gifts that may be given to members. At the same time, the Committee regulates Senators’ travel, primarily if that travel is sponsored by private individuals. Thus, no Senator can suddenly go on vacation or business trips for personal reasons since members of Congress are too crucial to U.S. legislative policy. The Ethics Committee ensures that the entire procedural part of travel is fully regulated, which means that prior approval is always required. The two practices described seem to be extremely important policies that discourage corrupt schemes. Taken together, this not only maintains the high reputational status of one of the most critical government agencies but also allows us to provide genuinely high-quality, competent government services.
SCE. “About Us.” US Select Committee on Ethics, Web.