In the wake of blowback from their intent to gut the House ethics watchdog, House Republicans held an emergency conference where they withdrew the proposal.
The new 115th Congress had not even formally been seated before GOP leaders held an emergency conference meeting to discuss the blowback against the party’s vote Monday evening to gut the chamber’s independent ethics watchdog. The vote was literally without any warning.
Tuesday’s emergency meeting came after President-elect Donald Trump issued a series of tweets questioning the timing of the proposed changes, which would have put the Office of Congressional Ethics under oversight of the House Ethics Committee. The move would have effectively removed the cornerstone of the OCE, its independence from the House.
As it stands, the OCE operates completely non-partisan and independent of Congress. It has the power to investigate “misconduct against lawmakers, officers, and staff of the United States House of Representatives.” The panel was originally formed by Congress while Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the House in the wake of many lobbying scandals.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) both opposed the changes. The house established the OCE in 2008 in response to a series of ethics scandals that had plagued multiple Republican lawmakers, three of whom received prison terms.