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January 03, 2017 07:09 AM UTC

GOP Votes to Gut Independent Office of Congressional Ethics

  • by: PKolbenschlag

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE #3: Per Talking Points Memo, we learn that Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) voted NO on the proposal. No word on the other five members of Colorado’s delegation.


POLS UPDATE #2: As Chris Cillizza asks for “The Fix,” WTF are Republicans doing?:

That so many Republican Members — 119 voted for the proposal — didn’t grasp how remarkably bad it all looks to a public already deeply skeptical of Washington speaks volumes about how sheltered many politicians still are from the constituents who elected Donald Trump president on November 8. Regardless of the merits (or lack thereof) of the OCE, the manner in which House Republicans scrapped it is remarkably tone-deaf and should worry any member of the GOP about what’s to come in this new legislative year.


POLS UPDATE: After President-elect Donald Trump scolds congressional Republicans on Twitter, Politico now reporting:

Following a public outcry, and criticism from President-elect Donald Trump, House Republicans reversed course Tuesday on drastic changes to the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) offered a motion to restore the current OCE rules, and that was accepted by the GOP conference.


In its first move to help President-Elect Donald J. Trump “Drain the Swamp” the House GOP caucus has voted overwhelmingly to “eviscerate” the independent Office of Congressional Ethics.

The late evening vote, done behind closed doors with no roll call, gutted the OCE of all meaningful power.

As NPR reports:

The House Republican Conference voted Monday night to approve a change to House rules to weaken the independence of the Office of Congressional Ethics and place it under the oversight of the House Ethics Committee — a panel controlled by party leaders.

Among the changes: Stripping the OCE of any ability to investigate complaints without the politicians’ approval; Gutting the Office of its ability to communicate with media or to inform the public, which funds the operations of government, including congressional salaries, staff and committees; and, Prohibiting the OCE from notifying law enforcement when it uncovers evidence of criminal wrong doing.


Rep. Ken Buck DC Office Phone: (202) 225-4676
Rep. Scott Tipton DC Office Phone: (202) 225-4761
Rep. Mike Coffman DC Office Phone: (202) 225-7882
Rep. Doug Lamborn DC Office Phone: (202) 225-4422













Today the full House will vote on the entire rules package on the floor. And although GOP leadership put up some tepid resistance to the move to slash ethical oversight it is unclear if Ryan or McCarthy will actually try to prevent this provision from moving forward. Unless people rise up and call their GOP House Members today. Things to ask would include if the Member voted for this gutless move and if the Member plans to vote for the rules package that includes it.

Many observers quickly figured out that GOP calls to “drain the swamp” were primarily political grandstanding. Why would swamp creatures ruin their own enterprise? But some may have thought that the very first order of business would not be such a blatant attempt to shield themselves from accountability and public oversight, and then to lie to the American people about what their amendment actually does.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn looked in the camera and told the American people that stripping the OCE of its independent authority “increases accountability.”

After accusing Hillary Clinton of operating under her own set of rules that existed for the “elites,” Mr. Trump’s prolific Twitter account has been deafeningly silent.

Welcome to the Swamp – Resist Now.





14 thoughts on “GOP Votes to Gut Independent Office of Congressional Ethics

  1. Help the Sunlight Foundation keep track of which GOP House Members voted to gut public ethics oversight of themselves. 

    On January 2nd, 2017, the House Republican Conference voted 119-74 to undermine the independence of the Office of Congressional Ethics with no advance public notice nor disclosure of the amendment for debate. The vote was secret. Please ask your Member of Congress and help find out if they voted for the Goodlatte Amendment to gut the Office of Government Ethics. If enough people call, we can figure out who voted for it and who did not. The spreadsheet embedded below is a public count of how U.S. Representatives voted on the measure.


    Rep. Buck voted against the rules change, per his office. And says now the rules change is pulled out of the package that's on the floor.

    Good job holding these tootsies to the fire.

    1. What are the odds that after this crashed and burned, that somehow less than the 119 who voted for it admit their secretly cast vote accurately? 

      As one tweet said "Its a New Year's Miracle: 100% of GOP vote against measure that passed handily" or something to that effect. 

  3. Not surprising that Marsha Blackburn is part of the "fix" to gut the OCE. Blackburn has also been on a months long jihad against Planned Parenthood. 

  4. Scott Tipton refuses to disclose to his constituents how he voted on gutting ethics oversight. 

    House Republicans met behind closed doors to talk about their legislative agenda Monday night, so an official vote wasn’t recorded. Rep. Scott Tipton of Cortez, Colorado’s fourth Republican in Congress, did not disclose his vote or position. His office said the caucus meeting was held in private, and it’s his philosophy to keep those discussions discreet.

  5. I don't remember this much outrage when the Democrats wanted to do it:

    The Office of Congressional Ethics, a powerful symbol of Democrats’ promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington, is in danger of having its power stripped after the midterm elections.

    Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have led the charge, airing complaints about the aggressive, independent panel in a private session with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month, and they’ve drafted a resolution that, if approved, would severely curtail the panel’s power.

    But there’s hot competition between the CBC and the official House ethics committee over who has less regard for the Office of Congressional Ethics, also known as the OCE. And the rest of the House doesn’t appear to be far behind in its disdain. Privately, Democratic and Republican lawmakers, and even some congressional leaders, acknowledge that there’s a strong sentiment to change rules that empower the office to publicize investigations and wreak havoc on lawmakers’ political lives.

    “We might have to take a fresh look, at some point, at the authority of the OCE,” said North Carolina Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield, who is a member of both the CBC and the ethics committee.


    1. I don't remember the CBC rallying a secret vote behind closed doors without any notice on a National Holiday passing it through the entire Democratic conference by 2:1, but maybe I am missing something. Care to elucidate? 

      1. And in the article you link to the CBC is having a news conference announcing their concerns. You might pick up your game there cologeek, its rather like fish in a barrel you know? 

        1. Just showing that the shoe fits the feet on both sides.  Trying to portray just one side as "Pure of Heart" really doesn't work well.

          Trout meet Salmon.

          1. Its apples and oranges. The GOP did it in secret, behind closed doors, without notice. That you won't acknowledge, or cannot see, the difference is telling. 

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