US House Republicans drop proposal to weaken ethics office

05 Jan 2017 | By Abheet Sethi

Republican Party members in the US House of Representatives have dropped a controversial proposal to curb the powers of the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).

The proposal, approved by House republicans, was heavily criticized by rival Democrats and multiple ethics watchdogs.

President-elect Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, both Republicans, also opposed the move.

In context: Trump intervenes, Republicans drop plans to weaken watchdog

DetailsOffice of Congressional Ethics cracks down on errant lawmakers

The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) is a non-partisan independent watchdog created by the House in 2008 following a massive corruption scandal involving several American lawmakers.

Over the past 18-months, the OCE found "substantial reason to believe" that a number of lawmakers may have violated ethics rules.

Previously, such allegations would be quietly dismissed unless the bipartisan US Congress' House Ethics Committee investigated them.

Office of Congressional Ethics was more effective

The OCE disciplined 20 members of Congress from 2009 to 2014. By contrast, in the 11 years prior to the OCE's establishment, just 10 members were disciplined.
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What the Republicans proposed

OCE made powerlessWhat the Republicans proposed

The Republicans, who have a controlling majority in the House, proposed to stop the OCE from reviewing any alleged criminal action by lawmakers.

These allegations would be turned over to the House Ethics Committee which in turn would have increased oversight on the OCE.

The OCE would no longer be able to investigate any anonymous reports alleging misconduct by lawmakers.

05 Jan 2017US House Republicans drop proposal to weaken ethics office

Trump slams Republicans

"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," an angry Trump tweeted.