House GOP backs down on plans to gut ethics panel after sparking outrage

Lawmakers spearheading the effort to gut the OCE have come under investigation in recent years.

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After mass outrage, including criticism from both Democrats and President-elect Donald Trump, Republicans have abandoned their plans to gut the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called an emergency House GOP meeting on Tuesday to officially scrap the proposal.

The OCE is an independent body that was created in 2008 to combat corruption and misconduct by members of Congress.

On Monday, House Republicans voted behind closed doors on a plan to cripple it. The plan would have been to rename the OCE the Office of Congressional Complaint Review and place it under the House Ethics Committee, thus stripping it of its independent status.

If the plan would have gone through, the new Office of Congressional Complaint Review would not be able to publicly release any of their findings or information without the approval of the House Ethics Committee. They would also be prohibited from contacting law enforcement if they uncovered a crime.

According to Politico, lawmakers spearheading the effort to gut the OCE have come under investigation in recent years. They include Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) who was investigated for sexual harassment and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) who was accused of receiving “an impermissible gift when he and his wife traveled to Taiwan in October 2011.”

After the plans were announced, Democratic leaders, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi, publicly condemned the move:

President-elect also condemned the move via Twitter, although his criticisms were directed at the timing of the situation:

Thousands took to Twitter after the vote was announced to urge people to call their members of Congress. This resulted in a “tremendous number of calls” to district offices, according to Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) as well as thousands of emails and Facebook messages.

This was an awkward start to the newest season of GOP-led Congress, which had hoped to promote unity and “hit the ground running” before President-elect Trump was sworn in later this month.

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