Republicans Trying to Weaken Law Enforcement Agency

House Republicans voted last Monday to significantly restrict the power of an independent ethics body investigating allegations of misconduct against lawmakers and their staff.

The closed-door, unannounced vote came at a meeting in which top House Republican leaders Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy opposed the move, which will be put to the vote today..

Today, a new session of Congress opens, where Republicans maintain their majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate after legislative elections last November.

The amendment adopted by Republicans at Monday’s meeting on the proposal of legislator Bob Goodlatte places the now-called Congressional Ethics Office of Congress (OCE) under the jurisdiction of the House Ethics Committee.

In this way, the ethics monitoring and investigative role is given to the legislators themselves, through the House Ethics Committee, accused in the past of ignoring credible accusations of illegal acts against members of Congress.

The OCE was established as a non-partisan and independent entity within Congress in 2008, under the leadership of then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after a series of corruption scandals and bad practices by lawmakers.

In a statement, Pelosi denounced that the vote in favor of weakening the power of the OCE indicates that “ethics is the first victim of the new Republican Congress.”

Goodlatte, chairman of the Lower House Judiciary Committee, argued that his amendment is not intended to “impede” the work of the ECO.

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