House GOP Reverses Course On Gutting Office Of Congressional Ethics

After a fierce public backlash, the House GOP reversed course and withdrew the rules change that would have gutted the Office of Congressional Ethics, according to members who were present at the emergency GOP meeting mid-day Tuesday.

The amendment, put forward by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), that would have significantly hobbled the Office of Congressional Ethics was approved overwhelmingly by the GOP caucus Monday night in a closed-door meeting, but was meet with swift public outcry. The provision would have put the office under the control of the House Ethics Committee, reducing its independence, and would have blocked some of its other powers, including its abilities to accept anonymous tips and to report suspected crimes directly to law enforcement.

An emergency House GOP caucus meeting was called Tuesday morning, not long after President-elect Donald Trump criticize the timing of the move to overhaul ethics office, but nonetheless called the office “unfair.” Monday’s vote on the changes was by secret ballot so it was unclear who exactly was opposed to the provision. It was reportedly passed, however, despite warnings from House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

By Tuesday morning, some Republicans were already signaling their intention to vote against the entire rules package due to the overhaul of the ethics office.

As they emerged from Tuesday’s meeting, some GOP lawmakers, while confirming the language had been stripped from the Rules package, nonetheless continued to voice their frustration with the Office of Congressional Ethics.

“I’m for this: abolish it entirely,” Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told reporters after Tuesday’s meeting. He added that the plan was now to “go to work on it” in a bipartisan fashion.

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) said there are as many Democrats as Republicans would want to see some oversight on OCE. He expected The House Ethics committee to work together and come up with a bipartisan proposal he hoped would be ready before the August recess.

Simpson said those who didn’t listen to leadership’s warning “shot themselves in the foot,” but “sometimes you’ve got to learn the hard way.”

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Sincerely,
TPM Staff
Latest Dc
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporters:
Newswriters:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: