House Republicans Suspend Plan to Kill Ethics Office

Congressional Republicans have backed off from their plan to wreck the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) after a tepid rebuke from President-Elect Donald Trump. But the move might only be temporary.

The Vote

In a secret meeting Monday night, House Republicans voted to weaken the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), an independent, non-partisan entity responsible for reviewing allegations of wrongdoing against members and staff of the United States House of Representatives.

Think Progress writes:

Under the new rules, the Office of Congressional Ethics would be renamed the Office of Congressional Complaint Review and, critically, lose its independence. It would be placed under the auspices of the House Ethics Committee, which famously has turned a blind eye to wrongdoing by members of Congress. It became clear that an independent body was necessary after scandals largely ignored by the the Ethics Committee sent several members of Congress, including Randy “Duke” Cunningham and Bob Ney, to jail.

If the GOP had gone ahead, the OCE would have been unable to release its findings to the public or contact the police without permission.

The vote was led by several members of the house who have been accused of unethical behavior by the OCE, Politico notes:

One of those was Rep. Blake Farenthold, the Texas Republican who was accused by a former staffer of sexual harassment… Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) also spoke in support of the measure. The Ethics Committee, at the behest of OCE, had probed whether Roskam accepted an impermissible gift when he and his wife traveled to Taiwan in October 2011.

The Response

The Democratic Party has voiced opposition to the vote. Sen. Elizabeth Warren took to Twitter to air her thoughts:

Donald Trump, who promised to “drain the swamp” (i.e. purge Washington, D.C. of corruption), called the OCE “unfair” but offered only a weak criticism of the vote:

The GOP’s Response to the Response

Today, House Republicans moved to withdraw their vote to wreck the OCE. But we shouldn’t rest easy yet. They’ll probably do it again.

The Washington Post warns, “The House will study changes to the [OCE] with an August deadline.” So by next August, we can expect the GOP to try to destroy the OCE again. In the meantime, they’ll be busy destroying the country in plenty of other ways.