The new Congress hasn't even been sworn in yet but House Republicans in what was supposed to be a secret move have just gutted the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent ethics watchdog. Monday afternoon House Republicans held a secret vote to pass the new rules package for the new session of Congress. How member vote is not made public. Included in the rules package is an amendment destroying the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).
The full Congress will vote Tuesday on the House's new rules, which, given the strong majority GOP lawmakers have, will pass without issue.
The amendment to the rules, authored by Virginia Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte, strips the independent ethics office of its independence, and places it directly under the very lawmakers it is supposed to have the power to investigate, CNN reports.
The office was created under then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who offered strong condemnation for the Republicans' latest move.
"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," Democratic Leader Pelosi said in a statement. "Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress."
"The amendment Republicans approved tonight would functionally destroy this office," she added.
The Office of Congressional Ethics will exist as part of the House Ethics Committee, which of course is under Republican leadership.
Politico adds that now, the OCE will "be under the thumb of lawmakers themselves. The proposal also appears to limit the scope of the office's work by barring them from consider anonymous tips against lawmakers. And it would stop the office from disclosing the findings of some of their investigations, as they currently do after the recommendations go to House Ethics."
In other words, less transparency and an effort to prohibit investigations.
This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated, and NCRM will likely publish follow-up stories on this news. Stay tuned and refresh for updates.
This is reprinted from an article by David Badash, the New Civil Rights Movement, January 2, 2017
January 2, 2017
Addendum.Call or email your Congress Representatives. If they are Republicans, threaten not to re-elect them. If they are Democrats, tell them we expect them to resist.