In a closed door vote held on Monday, House Republicans chose to dismantle the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). However, after much criticism, including from the President-elect, GOP lawmakers backtracked from their original plan, reported Politico.
The OCE is an independent ethics committee that was started in 2008 in order to investigate misconduct and corruption of lawmakers. It was first put in place after several GOP members went to jail for bribery and other scandals.
House Republicans voted to eliminate the OCE’s independent status and place it under control of the House Ethics Committee, which is conveniently run by the same lawmakers the OCE is scrutinizing. Basically, GOP lawmakers felt that they could do a better job policing themselves.
However, this move did not go without criticism. Even Donald Trump tweeted a critique of the ethics change.
Although the president-elect did call the OCE “unfair,” he also claimed that GOP lawmakers should be focused on higher priority items.
Additionally, Speaker Paul Ryan also urged his fellow republicans to vote against the initiative.
"I want to make clear that this House will hold its members to the highest ethical standards and the Office will continue to operate independently to provide public accountability to Congress," Ryan said in a statement. "All members of Congress are required to earn the public’s trust every single day, and this House will hold members accountable to the people.”
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also released a statement condemning Republicans attempting to put themselves in charge of each other.
"Republicans claim they want to 'drain the swamp,' but the night before the new Congress gets sworn in, the House GOP has eliminated the only independent ethics oversight of their actions," Pelosi said in a statement. "Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress."
On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy called an emergency conference with the GOP lawmakers to pull the plug on the formerly voted House rule that would have eviscerated the OCE.
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