Politics

House GOP Eliminates Independent Ethics Panel

| by Ray Brown

House Republicans had voted to remove the independence of the Office of Congressional Ethics, despite top GOP leaders, including President-elect Donald Trump, being against the action.

But then they decided against it.

The OCE would have been renamed the Office of Congressional Complaint Review and be placed under the oversight of the House Ethics Committee, reported The Washington Post.

That didn't sit well with the next president.

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“With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act and priority,” tweeted Trump. “Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance!”

Trump added the hashtag, “#DTS” for his campaign slogan, “Drain the Swamp,” which refers to his campaign promise to rid Washington, D.C., of elitist and establishment politicians.

Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said that's exactly what congressional Republicans are not doing.

“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 after news of the secret-ballot vote, reported The New York Times. "Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress."

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Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte, who sponsored the measure and is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said eliminating an independent ethics panel and leaving ethical issues up to Congress itself actually “builds upon and strengthens” the current system.

“The OCE has a serious and important role in the House, and this amendment does nothing to impede their work,” Goodlatte said.

After criticism and outrage at the GOP for gutting the congressional ethics panel, House Republicans held an emergency meeting and withdrew the proposal, reported The Hill.

Sources: The Washington Post, The New York TimesDonald J. Trump/Twitter (2), The Hill / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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