GOP Walks Back Bill That Would Gut Ethics Committee
If the House GOP wanted to start the new session of Congress off right, they apparently found the wrong way to do it. On Monday night, the GOP decided to vote on a proposal that would essentially gut the Independent Office of Congressional Ethics or known as the Ethics Committee. The proposal would have removed a lot of the power that the Ethics Committee would have had.
The independent watchdog of the House of Representatives, which was spearheaded by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was intended to be a nonpartisan investigative committee. The Office was created as an independent body to investigate misconduct against lawmakers, officers and staff of the United States House of Representatives.
However, many members of both parties had complaints that it wasn’t functioning properly. Some members felt that it was being used for political purposes for outside groups and the investigations were unnecessary and causing members of the House to mount an expensive defense for partisan matters.
“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. Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress,” Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Monday following the vote. “The amendment Republicans approved tonight would functionally destroy this office.”
Now, the GOP, whose leaders were not in favor of the proposal, seems to be walking the bill back as they have received a big amount of backlash for it. Some of that backlash comes from their own as President-Elect Donald Trump questioned whether or not this was an appropriate time to do this.
“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. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance!” he tweeted.
There were many GOP members who felt the same way—that it wasn’t the right time. Majority leader Kevin McCarthy, along with Paul Ryan, voted against the initial proposal. Despite that, they spent much of their morning trying to justify why they will support the vote.
“It is true that I opposed moving forward on this at this time because I thought it was something both parties should take up at the same time,” McCarthy said on MSNBC. “I don’t want to put politics with it,” McCarthy said. “That’s why I thought this wasn’t the best time to go forward with it.”
As for Ryan, he immediately released a statement defending the proposal after Trump tweeted which marks the first time, of potentially many, where the two will break away on issues.
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 his 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.”
information from CNN and the Associated Press was used in this story