Republicans just gutted Congress’ ethics panel. Elizabeth Warren’s response is PRICELESS.|
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives just did something that would make Frank Underwood blush, and Elizabeth Warren’s response is devastating.
In a Monday night vote, Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-Virginia) introduced a series of rules that would gut the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) — an independent, nonpartisan agency set up by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) in 2008 after several members of Congress were jailed for corruption and various other crimes. The vote comes the night before a crop of new Republican members of Congress will be sworn in. Among other things, Goodlatte’s proposed language would prevent the ethics agency from contacting law enforcement if they identify a crime.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) responded to the move in a devastating tweet that summed up the fundamental problem with Washington politicians:
Tell us, @GOP: Who, exactly, thinks that the problem with Washington is that we have too many rules requiring the gov to act ethically?
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) January 3, 2017
Rep. Pelosi, who was recently reelected as House Minority Leader, piled on, hinting that her Republican counterparts appear to be preparing to violate longstanding ethical guidelines for members of Congress.
Republicans claim they want to ‘drain the swamp,’ but the night before the new Congress gets sworn in, the House G.O.P. has eliminated the only independent ethics oversight of their actions,” Pelosi said in a public statement. “Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress.”
PBS reported that Rep. Goodlatte proposed changing the name of the agency to the Office of Congressional Complaint Review, along with language that would eliminate its independent oversight. If passed in an official vote on Tuesday, the OCE would fall under the oversight of the House Ethics Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pennsylvania). Goodlatte’s proposal would also punish House Democrats if they attempted a sit-in on the House floor like their gun control demonstration last June, in the aftermath of the Pulse Nightclub shooting.
Jen Ahearn of the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) tweeted a summary of Goodlatte’s proposed new rules:
And, a summary of what it appears Rep. Goodlatte is proposing to do to undermine the House Office of Congressional Ethics: pic.twitter.com/fahdhZeG8i
— Jen Ahearn (@jenahearn) January 2, 2017
Pelosi oversaw the creation of the agency in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal, which resulted in Rep. Robert Ney (R-Ohio), Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-California), and half a dozen other members of Congress pleading guilty to a variety of charges like bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, tax evasion, and making false statements.
Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan spoke out against the rules change, though he is likely to be overruled by his fellow Republicans.
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.