Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, has been named the ranking Republican on two key congressional panels - the committee that investigates the scandals of House members and the subcommittee in charge of the Central Utah Project.
House Minority Leader Bob Michel, R-Ill., on Wednesday announced Hansen's appointment as co-chairman of the House Select Committee on Standards of Official Conduct - which investigates ethical misconduct and is the only House committee with equal numbers from both parties."I have been a member of this committee for the past 10 years, from the Abscam case to the Jim Wright case, and I can tell you: serving on ethics is a thankless task at best," Hansen said.
"You are the judge and jury of your peers, often holding their careers and futures in your hands. That is a humbling experience. To do them justice requires the devotion of much time, often at the expense of other obligations."
He had told reporters earlier that he wanted to get off the committee because of the distasteful work and the time it took away from other assignments.
Michel said Hansen had gone beyond normal expectations with his 10 years on the committee, but Hansen agreed to do Michel one more favor by serving as its co-chairman for two years. "We need someone beyond reproach characterwise," Michel said.
Michel added, "There is nothing to be gained at home by serving on this type of committee . . . but it is for the protection of the institution."
Hansen added that he has found - despite his ethics committee work - that "the vast majority of members of Congress are hard-working, good people, and are not out running around with gals at the Tidal Basin. . . . Most of them are rather boring, in fact" - so he wants to help protect the reputation of Congress.
Hansen becomes only the third member of those Republicans first elected in 1981 to be named the ranking member of a full committee. It also means Hansen will be in regular meetings with House leadership and the White House.
"I will certainly use this more active role in leadership to further the interests of my constituents," Hansen said. "To head the Republicans of any committee is an honor. This is leadership saying: We trust your judgment and respect your fairness."
Hansen was also named this week as the ranking Republican on the House Interior Subcommittee on Water, Power and Offshore Energy Resources, which oversees the CUP.
"My being named to this seat will help the delegation in our efforts to gain passage of this important legislation' to raise debt limits to allow completion of the CUP, Hansen said.
"I can conceive of no more important subcommittee assignment for a Utah congressman than water and power. As a state where water is a precious commodity, every congressional decision regarding water use has a far-reaching impact."