House GOP backs off ethics office overhaul after widespread criticism

WASHINGTON — House Republicans reversed course Tuesday amid a firestorm of criticism over their plans to gut a congressional ethics office.

Republicans backed off the proposal that drew the ire of President-elect Donald Trump, who campaigned on a promise to “drain the swamp” of Washington influence and corruption.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and top Republicans had warned colleagues not to pursue the proposal, which would have weakened the independent ethics office.

But the GOP leaders initially appeared resigned Tuesday after rank-and-file lawmakers supported the change, testing the leaders’ ability to control their majority.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters Tuesday.

By late morning, though, as the full House was set to vote on the broader rules package, Republicans switched course.

Aides said the agreement was reached unanimously by leaders and lawmakers.

The changes would have fundamentally altered the independent Congressional Office of Ethics that was created in 2008 after a series of congressional scandals — including the one involving former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

McCarthy said he agreed with Trump — that the first day of the new Congress was not the time for such controversial changes — and he said he made some of the same arguments during a private session with Republican lawmakers.

Ryan made a similar plea, aides said.

But the GOP leaders failed to sway fellow Republican lawmakers, a reminder of the challenges the Republicans face in governing their often-willful majority in Congress.

Good-government and watchdog groups warned Republicans to switch course.

“No American, save a few members of Congress and those who want to do business in back rooms, supports this,” said David Donnelly, president and chief executive of Every Voice, a group advocating for campaign finance reforms. “Speaker Paul Ryan said he opposed the measure, and he should show leadership by calling for the Office of Congressional Ethics to be reinstated.”

CongressethicsGOPUS

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays attends an event to honor the San Francisco Giants' 2014 World Series victory on Thursday, June 4, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
Willie Mays turns 90: San Francisco celebrates the greatest Giant

By Al Saracevic Examiner staff writer I couldn’t believe it. Willie Mays… Continue reading

Ja’Mari Oliver, center, 11, a fifth grader at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, is surrounded by his classmates at a protest outside the Safeway at Church and Market streets on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in support of him following an April 26 incident where he was falsely accused by an employee of stealing. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
School community rallies behind Black classmate stopped at Safeway

‘When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us’

A warning notice sits under the windshield wiper of a recreational vehicle belonging to a homeless man named David as it sits parked on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. A proposed SF Municipal Transportation Agency law would make it illegal for overnight parking on the side street for vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA to resume ‘poverty tows’ amid calls to make temporary ban permanent

Fines and fees hurt low-income, homeless residents, but officials say they are a necessary tool

Income from Shared Spaces will provide financial resources to the San Francisco Municipal Transporation Agency, according to its director, Jeffrey Tumlin. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA director says Shared Spaces serves transit agency’s financial interest

$10.6 million price tag for program raises concerns among transit agency’s board members

A broad coalition of tenants and housing rights organizers rally at Stanley Mosk Courthouse to protest eviction orders issued against renters Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Los Angeles, CA. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Federal judge strikes down CDC’s national moratorium on evictions

David Yaffe-Bellany, Noah Buhayar Los Angeles Times A federal judge in Washington… Continue reading

Most Read