Republicans on a small but powerful House Committee voted Monday night to gut Congress’s independent ethics watchdog, prohibiting the group from doing much of its investigative work without approval from a committee of House members, whom the group is in charge of policing, and from making their findings public. The full House will decide what to do with the amendment — which was tossed into a much larger package that usually passes — on Tuesday. Here’s what House Republicans say the Office of Congressional Ethics should stop doing:
1. The OCE should no longer be independent. Instead, it will be under the House’s Committee on Ethics, which is run by members of Congress. An earlier version of the amendment read that OCE would be “subject to the authority and direction” of the committee, but that language was later softened.
2. The office will no longer be able to accept anonymous tips from whistleblowers.
3. The ethics office must stop any investigation if the House ethics committee tells it to.
4. The ethics office cannot investigate any tips on misconduct that took place before Jan. 3, 2011.
5. The office can no longer talk about its findings — or even hire a spokesperson.
6. The OCE cannot investigate any criminal cases or turn allegations of corruption over to law enforcement.
An earlier version of the amendment read that the OCE would be “subject to the authority and direction” of the committee, but that language was later softened to say that it would be “subject to oversight” by the committee. This post has been updated to reflect that change.
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