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Republicans Drop Plan to Weaken Office of Congressional Ethics

Republicans have dropped a plan to weaken Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) – an independent body that investigates political misconduct after a backlash.

The lawmakers’ surprise vote to strip the OCE of its independence prompted public uproar and a dressing down from Donald Trump.

President-elect Donald Trump said: “Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance!”

The secretive move, which overshadowed the first day of the 115th Congress, was reversed in an emergency meeting.

The OCE was set up in 2008 following a slew of scandals that resulted in several House lawmakers being jailed.

Donald Trump made cleaning up corruption in Washington a key theme of his campaign, and he ended his tweet with “#DTS”, an acronym for “drain the swamp”.

Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan had argued unsuccessfully against the rule change, which was adopted on January 2 in a closed-door meeting, but he defended the proposal on January 3.

Paul Ryan said: “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.”

According to Google Trends, as the news spread, internet searches for “who is my representative” rocketed.

House Republicans called an emergency meeting and abruptly voted to undo the change.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham took a shot at his party colleagues’ decision to neuter the OCE, telling Fox News radio it was “the dumbest fricking thing I’ve ever heard”.

Paul Ryan – who was re-elected by fellow congressional Republicans on January 3 as House Speaker – had urged his party to seek bipartisan support and to wait to push for the change later.

However, Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte submitted the proposal against the advice of his party leaders.

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