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REPUBLICANS WELCOME PROBE; CHENEY JOINS CHECK BOUNCERS

Republicans, gleeful over the prospects of further political damage to their Democratic rivals, welcomed on Tuesday a federal prosecutor's decision to probe the House bank scandal.

"Somebody sure as the devil ought to be looking, and thank goodness the U.S. attorney's office announced that they indeed are looking," said Rep. Guy Vander Jagt, R-Mich., chairman of the GOP congressional campaign committee.Vander Jagt told a news conference the "raw data" on the huge number of overdrawn checks raises the possibility of violations of tax laws on loan interest along with laws on campaign funding and financial disclosure.

The House ethics committee, which conducted a five-month investigation of the check bouncing scandal, recommended the public release of the names of the 355 current and former members who wrote bad checks. The committee did not recommend individual disciplinary action or further investigation.

They "specifically did not consider it their mandate to look into any specific wrongdoing," Vander Jagt said.

Vander Jagt also called for the resignation of the new House sergeant-at-arms, Werner Brandt, who was appointed Thursday following the resignation of Jack Russ.

Russ was criticized by the ethics committee for lax management of the House bank and for writing several bad checks of his own.

Republicans complained that House Speaker Thomas Foley, D-Wash., did not consult them when he picked Russ' successor. Vander Jagt said Brandt was "one of the cronies of the speaker" and that someone new, from outside Congress, should be brought in to overhaul the administration of the House.