House Moves to Dismantle Independent Ethics Committee, Remove Oversight

The night before the new Congress takes office.

UPDATE (1:04 p.m.): House Republicans think better of it and decide to roll back the suite of proposed changes. Democracy in action, I suppose.

UPDATE (12:32 p.m.): Predictably, rival opinion site Breitbart has tried their best to pass this off as “fake news” – ironic given the source – but as usual they seem to willingly miss the point. The rule changes restrict the OCE’s ability to investigate incoming tips and prevents them from making any public statements independent from the House Ethics Committee… which is controlled by (you guessed it) the very same Republican leadership who are voting to allow these changes. This would basically grant House Republicans the ability to scuttle any congressional investigations at their own convenience, effectively dismantling the OCE as an independent oversight watchdog.

Supporters of the rule change argue that it is to prevent anonymous tipsters from tarnishing the reputations of upstanding lawmakers, but if that were the case then they should make all of these restrictions applicable only to investigations based on anonymous tips. Instead, they proposed broader changes that impact the OEC’s primary function as an independent body, so the criticism stands. Be concerned.

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