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House Republicans scrap plans to gut ethics agency after massive outrage

After criticism from both Democrats and President-elect Trump, Republicans have halted plans to dismantle the independent ethics agency overseeing them.

The Huffington Post reported House Republicans’ abandonment of their maligned proposal to scrap the Office of Congressional Ethics on Tuesday afternoon, during an emergency conference meeting. No details about the meeting were immediately available as of this writing.

Under the proposal authored by Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-Virginia), the Office of Congressional Ethics would be stripped of its independent oversight and instead be subservient to the House Ethics Committee. The language of the proposal even prohibited investigators from contacting law enforcement if they spotted a crime:

“If at any time the board of the Office discovers information indicating that a matter which is the subject of a review by the board may involve a violation of a criminal law, the Board will immediately refer the matter to the Committee on Ethics for further review,” Goodlatte’s proposal read. “Nothing in the previous sentence may be construed to authorize the Board to refer any matter directly to law enforcement.”

The amendment, which was introduced around 10 PM Monday night, was seen as so insidious that it even invited the criticism of Republican standard-bearer Donald Trump, who tweeted scorn and condemnation to his party’s Congressional delegation:

“With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it … may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS”

The 115th Congress, which enjoys a Republican majority in both the House and Senate, is being sworn in today.


Zach Cartwright is an activist and author from Richmond, Virginia. He enjoys writing about politics, government, and the media. Follow his work on the Public Banking Institute blog.

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