Enforcement of Congressional Rules of Conduct: An Historical Overview [June 14, 2011] [open pdf - 220KB]
"The Constitution vests Congress with broad authority to discipline its Members. Only since 1967, however, have both houses established formal rules of conduct and disciplinary procedures whereby allegations of illegal or unethical conduct may be investigated and punished. In 1964, the Senate established its first permanent ethics committee, the Select Committee on Standards and Conduct, which was renamed the Select Committee on Ethics in 1977. In 1967, the House first established a permanent ethics committee, the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, which was renamed the Committee on Ethics in 2011. A year after being established, each chamber adopted rules of conduct. Previously, Congress dealt case by case with misconduct and relied on election results as the ultimate arbiter in questions of wrongdoing. […] This report describes the evolution of enforcement by Congress of its rules of conduct for the House and Senate and summarizes the disciplinary options available to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics."
CRS Report for Congress, RL30764