President-elect Donald Trump has caused another firestorm on Twitter, publicly bashing the recent proposal from GOP members of Congress. They motioned and voted to dismantle the famous Independent Ethics Committee, and faced a lot of backlash from progressive-leaning Democrats. At a time when the Democrats have lost virtually all control of the government, the Independent Ethics Committee is one of the most important functions to keep their interests and concerns addressed.
When the Republicans vowed to remove and dismantle the committee, the Democrats were understandably upset. This would make their ethics watchdog group and their actions much harder to police. It would make Democrats unable to instantly request investigations for misconduct and generally sends a negative message regarding public transparency.
President-elect Donald Trump took to his Twitter account to defend and represent the Democrats and shared their views. Most likely, Donald Trump was concerned about the lack of transparency that the Democrats would experience. He also knows the value and impact of talking points and public perception.
Trump said over the course of two tweets, “With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it… may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS.”
There is already mounting anger and concern over the Trump presidency as he selects his cabinet, responds to criticism, and defended Russia from accusations of their rigging the election.
After his public attack on establishment Congress members of the GOP, Monday night House Republicans voted 119-74 within a behind-closed-doors meeting to place the Office of Congressional Ethics under control of the Republicans. Public outcry, as well as Donald Trump’s tweets, motivated the House Republicans to end the debacle.
A House GOP aid spoke with CNN reporters and stated that Donald Trump and Paul Ryan had a brief discussion on the subject. The aide stated, “The pressure was building in the press and from constituents this morning regarding the way the reforms were put into place last night. Early this morning it became clear we would have a vote problem on the floor with this amendment. Leadership called a special all-conference meeting where it was agreed to by unanimous consent to strip the amendment. It’s safe to say that Trump’s tweets probably added to that pressure but it was already being heavily covered in the press.”
After the event occurred, Paul Ryan said “After eight years of operation, many members believe the Office of Congressional Ethics is in need of reform to protect due process and ensure it is operating according to its stated mission. I want to make clear that this House will hold its members to the highest ethical standards and the Office will continue to operate independently to provide public accountability to Congress.”
A separate House GOP aid told CNN “Ryan spoke out against the amendment and opposed it throughout. Today’s statement is an explanation of what the reform means and the action the speaker is taking to protect the office’s independence.”
Nancy Pelosi, who originally created the Office of Congressional Ethics, said “House Republicans showed their true colors last night, and reversing their plans to destroy the Office of Congressional Ethics will not obscure their clear contempt for ethics in the People’s House. Republicans should remember the strength of public outrage they faced in the space of 12 hours as they scheme to do lasting damage to the health and economic security of millions and millions of hard-working families.”
The one aspect of The Office of Congressional Ethics that both sides of the political spectrum agree on is that it is often used as a vehicle for political maneuverings and riddled with personal motivations. The most common problem is that it is used to probe specific candidates and forces them to fund an expensive legal defense. Due to the nature of the Office of Congressional Ethics, it’s entire purpose is to probe possible conflicts of interest as well as other problems, so for the office to be used without political motivations would be difficult.
[Featured Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]