In a surprise move, House Republicans on Monday voted to strip the Office of Congressional Ethics of its power with no notice. After Democrats, government watchdog groups, and even President-Elect Donald Trump criticized the move, Republicans reversed course. But the move shows a concerning chism between what Mr. Trump promised voters and what House Republicans are actually pursuing. Should Republican voters be worried? What exactly is the OCE and why would House Republicans want it gone?
What Do House Republicans Have Against The OCE?
On Monday, House Republicans voted to essentially remove any teeth from the Office of Congressional Ethics. On Tuesday, those same politicians backtracked and halted their plans. However, the damage was done. On the first day of a new congress, this seems like a particularly odd move. But what’s more odd is that the incoming Republican president, Donald Trump, publicly rebuked them for it.
What is the Office of Congressional Ethics?
Put simply, the OCE is an eight-person, independent office of former members of congress, lawyers, and others founded in 2008 to review allegations of misconduct against House members, officers, and staff. The OCE makes recommendations to the House Ethics Committee, and its reports and findings are almost always publicly released. It’s the first independent body to have an oversight role in House ethics and has no Senate counterpart. No current members of congress may belong to the OCE.
House Republicans voted to implement new rules, which stated the OCE would not have been allowed to receive anonymous tips, investigate criminal activity, or share its findings with the public or even other branches of government. The new rules would have made sure the OCE had no ability whatsoever to conduct an independent investigation of potential wrongdoing by members of Congress.
Thankfully, Republicans backed off the move after Trump tweeted that it’s a bad move. But considering Trump promised to “drain the swamp” and clean up corruption and influence peddling in Washington, the move seems like a huge disconnect between the incoming president and his congress. What’s even more of a disconnect is that one of Trump’s top aides, Kellyanne Conway, defended House Republicans, saying the move was necessary for significant change.
What she didn’t mention is that there are multiple House Republicans currently under investigation by the OCE. At least six lawmakers are being investigated stemming from complaints that started under the OCE, including the fourth highest-ranking House Republican, Washington state Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
Get more info about their self-policing intentions right here, thanks to Freedom Of Press
For now, the OCE stays intact as it is, but it’s a scary thought that on day one, a new congress is looking to remove any independent oversight. Thankfully, Mr. Trump put a stop to that. One thing is certain, and that is that the next four years should be interesting.
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Featured image via The Atlantic