Republican lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives have abandoned proposals to loosen rules governing ethical behavior.

The proposed changes would have made it more difficult to discipline unethical behavior and would have allowed a party leader to retain his position if indicted. In particular, the changes would have protected House Majority Leader Tom Delay, who has been rebuked several times for questionable conduct and who may face indictment in Texas in a campaign finance investigation.

Officials say Mr. Delay asked his colleagues to abandon the proposal because it could be used by Democrats as a political issue.

Democrats and some Republicans had criticized the proposed changes, arguing that the effort was highly partisan and not in the best interests of the House.