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First Move by the New House Republican Majority: Scuttle Ethics and Accountability

Public Citizen condemns rules package by the incoming GOP caucus that handcuffs the Office of Congressional Ethics

WASHINGTON, D.C. – When the new Congress convenes tomorrow, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are set to vote on a rules package that guts the Office of Congressional Ethics. In response, Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist with Public Citizen, issued the following statement:

“Public Citizen is writing to the House leadership of both parties asking for a commitment once again to reauthorize the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) in the 118th Congress. OCE is a bipartisan ethics office that helps monitor and report on ethics issues involving members of Congress, and frequently makes its recommendations to the House Ethics Committee on a unanimous vote. It has a proven track record of enhancing transparency and enforcement of ethics rules and has gained widespread support among the American public.

“OCE has been reauthorized every Congress since its inception in 2008. We ask each and every Member commit to encouraging the smooth reauthorization of OCE once again in the next Congress.

Right now, it appears the Republican caucus tomorrow morning will vote to approve provisions that will gut OCE:

  • any member of the board currently serving a term in excess of the limitations of section 1(b)(6) of such resolution shall be considered as removed from the board; and  
  • the provision regarding appointment and compensation of staff shall require an affirmative vote of at least 4 members of the board not later than 30 calendar days after the date of the adoption of this resolution.

“The first provision is designed to remove the long-standing Democrats from the board. The second is to make it difficult for OCE to staff its office. These are measures that will render the ethics office ineffectual and which no Member, from either party, should support.

“Today’s Republican party is rife with ethical transgressions. And it is now trying to make it much harder to hold members of Congress accountable to the standards of decency we expect.”