House Republican Priorities

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Congress

So the very first thing House Republicans did when they got back to work was to vote to gut the independent Office of Congressional Ethics.

In a closed-door meeting Monday night, Republicans adopted House rules changes that would have essentially gutted their own oversight watchdog — a move that would have defied Trump’s “drain the swamp” mantra aimed at making Washington more transparent and less cozy.

The surprise move on Monday night appeared to catch even House GOP leadership off guard, and the conference approved a pitch that would have put the Office of Congressional Ethics under the thumb of lawmakers on the House Ethics Committee. Monday’s effort was led, in part, by lawmakers who have come under investigation in recent years.

The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) came into being in 2008, when Nancy Pelosi was Speaker. The House Ethics Committee had devolved into something that simply made excuses, it was said. The OCE operates independently of Congress. It has no subpoena power but has investigated both Dems (Maxine Waters and Charlie Rangel) and Republicans (Michele Bachmann).

Some people thought the OCE was overzealous, apparently.

In place of the office, Republicans would create a new Office of Congressional Complaint Review that would report to the House Ethics Committee, which has been accused of ignoring credible allegations of wrongdoing by lawmakers.

“Poor way to begin draining the swamp,” Tom Fitton, president of the conservative group Judicial Watch, said on Twitter. He added, “Swamp wins with help of @SpeakerRyan, @RepGoodlatte.”

Mr. Goodlatte defended the action in a statement on Monday evening, saying it would strengthen ethics oversight in the House while also giving lawmakers better protections against what some of them have called overzealous efforts by the Office of Congressional Ethics.

To be fair, I understand Speaker Ryan was caught off guard by the announcement as well, which shows us even other Republicans think he is a useless dweeb.

The announcement yesterday quickly became a public relations debacle and blew up in the announcers’ faces.

Then The Donald issued a couple of tweets expressing mild disapproval. The plan was reversed. Although most news outlets are reporting that the tweets caused the reversal, Josh Marshall denies this is true. ” … the bigger point is that this started blowing up last night and was full firestorm before Trump said anything,” he wrote.

Even so, news media are crediting Trump with saving the OCE. The Times also said,

The comments constituted a public break by Mr. Trump with rank-and-file Republicans, who overrode their top leaders on Monday in a vote to significantly curtail the power of the ethics office, which was set up in the aftermath of corruption scandals that sent three members of Congress to jail.

I think the three members were Rep. William Jefferson, Rep. Rick Renzi and Sen. Ted Stevens, but I’m not sure. Tom DeLay didn’t ever do jail time, I don’t think.

I just think it shows us what House Republicans consider to be priorities. As soon as Trump is elected, Paul Ryan started babbling about gutting Medicare. As soon as they get back to work, their first act is to try to relieve themselves of ethical oversight.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. paradoctor  •  Jan 3, 2017 @6:15 pm

    First impressions count. Day one: skidmarks.
    You’d think that the orange conman would be fine with explicit corruption, but these optics are too ugly even for the man who wears a ferret on his head.

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 3, 2017 @6:50 pm

    Typical.

    Now that the Republicans control the Executive, the Legislative, and much of the Judicial branches of government, they want to hide their dirty work.
    Maybe even “wet-work.”
    They feel it’s too bad too much got out about W & Dick’s “wet-work” regarding torture and rendition got out.

    t-RUMP’s not emtpying the swamp. He’s restocking it with even more horrible creatures.

  3. Swami  •  Jan 4, 2017 @12:14 am

    I was raised in a tradition where before we commenced feasting on a meal that somebody, usually the head of the household, would say grace. Given that understanding of upbringing, I would assume the Repugicans in Congress and Donald Trump’s progeny would at least wait until the inauguration when Trump assumes his role as head of the American household, so to speak, before they all start feasting on what remains of our democracy.
    I understand that ethics doesn’t appeal to the GOP palate, but there are those of us who still savor our ethics. I have a bad feeling about what’s to come after the 20th..Sorta like they should have the Coroner administer the oath of office rather than the Chief Justice.

  4. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 4, 2017 @12:37 am

    Swami,
    “Something wicked this way comes…”

  5. goatherd  •  Jan 4, 2017 @8:10 am

    When a “shooter” enters a crowded public place he has a distinct advantage over the legendary “good guy with a gun.” He doesn’t care what he hits, and he wants to hit everything. The GGWG has to avoid hitting the innocent bystanders. That’s the kind of advantage the Republicans have over us. Back in the days of St. Ronnie they developed the technique of heading government departments with people who were opposed to the central purpose of the department itself. Trump has employed this strategy across the board. In effect, much of our government will basically eat itself, as Swami opined.

  6. LongHairedWeirdo  •  Jan 5, 2017 @7:24 pm

    Paradoctor, I won’t easily be convinced that Trump saw the optics were bad on his own. I’d be more willing to believe he saw outrage and wanted to get in on it; I’m even more willing to believe that he knew the decision would be reversed, and decided to maximize how good he looked when it happened.

    He is an entertainer, after all – he knows how to look like he’s accomplishing something.



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