House Republicans Reverse Course On Gutting Ethics Office Budget

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
Font Size:

House Republicans reversed course Tuesday and removed a provision from a House rules package that would have gutted the budget of the Office of Congressional Ethics.

The move happened after President-elect Donald Trump criticized Republicans for the measure, which was voted on 119-74 Monday night in conference without party leaders and was scheduled to be brought to the floor Tuesday night.

The OCE, created in 2008 following the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, under the initially proposed rules of Republican lawmakers, the  package included renaming the OCE the Office of Congressional Complaint Review, and placed it under the oversight of the House Ethics Committee.

The new rules would have prohibited investigators from reviewing anonymous complaints against members, allow the ethics committee to halt a continuing investigation, and ban the OCE from making public statements about ongoing cases.Conservative Watchdog Blasts House GOP’s Change To Ethics Office

“People didn’t want this story on opening day,” Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma said of the provision. House GOP Ignores Ryan, McCarthy, Votes To Gut Ethics Office

This is not the first time members have tried to gut the budget or strip the powers of the Office of Congressional Ethics.

North Carolina Democrat Melvin Watt attempted to do so in 2011 and his fellow Congressional Black Caucus members proposed legislation in 2010 to curb the powers of the ethics office, but the bill did not reach the floor for a vote.

At the beginning of 2011, Republican members tried to reign in the powers of the OCE, but GOP leadership resisted.

Follow Kerry on Twitter