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After backlash, House GOP backs down from plan to gut ethics office

Liz Goodwin
·Senior National Affairs Reporter
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After an intense backlash, House Republicans on Tuesday reversed their move gutting Congress’ independent ethics watchdog group.

The GOP vote to back down from reining in the Office of Congressional Ethics was unanimous, Jake Sherman of Politico reported.

Earlier in the day, President-elect Donald Trump, who campaigned on a promise to “drain the swamp,” criticized House Republicans for making their first move one that rolled back ethics safeguards. He said the Office of Congressional Ethics had been “unfair,” but Congress has bigger priorities they should attend to now.

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Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia proposed the original controversial amendment Monday night in a surprise closed-door meeting of Republicans. The move changed the name of the group from Office of Congressional Ethics to Office of Congressional Complaint Review, stripped it of its independence, blocked it from investigating any wrongdoing that occurred prior to 2011, and prevented it from releasing its findings to the public without the authorization of the House Committee on Ethics. The rules change also would have prevented the panel from alerting law enforcement to criminal activity without the approval of the House committee.

Rep. Bob Dold, R-Ill., gavels closed the 144th Congress. (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
Rep. Bob Dold, R-Ill., gavels closed the 114th Congress. (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

Watchdog groups on the left and the right harshly criticized the move, and at least one congressman said his office had been inundated with calls from angry constituents.

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