GOP Backs Out on “Closed Doors” Amendment

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House Republicans have shied away from a last minute amendment proposed on Monday, after backlash from Democrats as well as President-elect Donald Trump.  The amendment would have weakened the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent ethics watchdog.

Despite warnings from House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the Washington Examiner reports that two-thirds of GOP lawmakers pushed a proposal that could weaken watchdog groups from investigating lawmakers. Why the GOP voted it through on Monday is still not one-hundred percent clear. However, according to the Examiner, both parties have complained about the OCE in the past, saying it drags out investigations from outside partisan groups for too long.

 

In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Tom Fitton, president of the conservative Judicial Watch, said, “This drive-by effort to eliminate the Office of Congressional Ethics, which provides appropriate independence and transparency to the House ethics process, is a poor way for the Republican majority to begin ‘draining the swamp.'”

President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter Tuesday morning to give his two-cents. He tweeted in part, “…do we really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it may be, the number one act and priority?”

According to the Washington Examiner, because of the backlash, Republicans held an emergency meeting minutes before the start of the  115th session, where they stripped the proposal altogether.

“Bad politics,” Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, told the Washington Examiner. “I understand the concern, but to do it behind closed doors was not the way to do it. The public needs to know what we are doing and why we are doing it.”

Minority House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in essence, said the purpose of the Office of Congressional Ethics is to add additional, non-congressional, eyes on lawmakers and their decisions. It was created in 2008 following several congressional corruption scandals.

H/T: Washington Examiner

 

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