House Republicans Vote to Gut Ethics Committee

HouseRepublicans Vote to Gut Ethics CommitteeOn Monday night the House Republicans voted 119-74 to eviscerate Congressโ€™ outside ethics watchdog and put it under the control of the very same lawmakers itโ€™s meant to be keeping in check. Under a proposal by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the Office of Congressional Ethics, set up in 2008 to investigate allegations of misconduct against lawmakers, will be controlled by the House Ethics Committee. Republicans voted in favor of the change Monday night without so much as a debate beforehand. Goodlatte said his proposal โ€œbuilds upon and strengthens the existing Office of Congressional Ethics by maintaining its primary area of focus of accepting and reviewing complaints from the public and referring them, if appropriate, to the Committee on Ethics.โ€ Democrats and watchdog groups reacted with alarm to the surprise move. โ€œRepublicans claim they want to โ€˜drain the swamp,โ€™ but the night before the new Congress gets sworn in, the House GOP has eliminated the only independent ethics oversight of their actions,โ€ House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement released after the vote. โ€œEvidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress.โ€ Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters, lambasted the move, saying the House Ethics Committeeโ€”the body to be tasked with fighting corruptionโ€”is known for โ€œsweeping corruption under the rug,โ€ not rooting out corruption. The full House of Representatives will vote on the rule as part of a larger package to be considered Tuesday.