UPDATES: Arkansas's Congressional Delegation Sworn In, Back Speaker & Scrapping Ethics Change

Jan 3, 2017

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R), among others, gets sworn in for a second term.
Credit C-Span

All six members of Arkansas's all-Republican congressional delegation were officially sworn in on Tuesday to convene the 115th Congress. In the U.S. House, the state's representatives all voted to support the successful re-election of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as Speaker. Only one of Arkansas's four members backed the now rescinded GOP effort to dismantle the independent Office of Congressional Ethics.

Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro weighed in on Twitter. He said he never supported the effort to relax ethics oversight. Republicans voted 119-74 behind closed doors on Monday evening to propose the rule change on day one of the new Congress. But GOP leaders ultimately scrapped the effort before it came up to a vote on Tuesday. President-elect Donald Trump had tweeted his opposition to curtailing ethics oversight in the House.

UPDATE III: Rep. Bruce Westerman is the sole member of state's delegation to have backed the effort to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics. His spokesman Ryan Saylor confirmed the position to Talk Business & Politics.

“The amendment in question was removed from the House rules package today and the congressman looks forward to tackling the issues that concern the residents of the Fourth District of Arkansas as the 115th Congress moves forward. Congressman Westerman believes in a repeal (of) Obamacare, simplifying the tax code, and restoring the constitutional authority granted to the legislative branch, and that is what he will focus on in his second term in Congress.”

UPDATE II: Rep. French Hill tells KUAR he opposed the ethics change.

“Last night, I voted against Chairman Goodlatte’s proposed amendment to H. Res 5. While I do believe the Office of Congressional Ethics is flawed and poorly designed and needs to be reformed to protect members’ constitutional rights, I also believe those reforms need to play out in a more open and bipartisan manner. Members of congress must be held to strict, high ethical standards, but members also deserve the same essential due process protections that all Americans enjoy. I am pleased my colleagues changed course this afternoon and scrapped the amendment so we can begin this Congress free of any unnecessary noise that diverts us away from accomplishing the things the American people have tasked us with doing, like fixing healthcare, reforming the tax code, securing the border, growing the economy, and strengthening national security.”

UPDATE: A spokeswoman with Rep. Steve Womack's office says the congressman opposed the effort from the get go.

"He voted against the proposal last night and supported the motion to restore the current OCE rules that was accepted by the GOP conference this morning."

Representatives Crawford (1st District) and northwest Arkansas's Steve Womack (3rd District) are embarking on their fourth terms in the House. French Hill (2nd District) in central Arkansas and Bruce Westerman (4th District) in the south and western reaches of the state begin a second term. Hill dispatched Democrat Dianne Curry by a comfortable margin in November's election while Westerman, Womack, and Crawford defeated Libertarian opponents by even wider margins.

After defeating Democratic challenger Conner Eldridge in November, U.S. Senator John Boozman of Rogers entered his second term in the upper chamber while the state's junior Senator Tom Cotton continued his first term.

Editor's Note: This article originally stated Reps. Crawford and Womack began their third term. They both were re-elected to a fourth term in November.