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Backtracking after Trump tweet, GOP won’t gut ethics office

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., listened to testimony on Capitol Hill, in May 2015, in Washington. House Republicans, on Monday, voted to eviscerate the Office of Congressional Ethics.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. spoke during a Nov. 15 news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.

WASHINTON >> House Republicans abruptly reversed themselves Tuesday under pressure from President-elect Donald Trump and dropped plans to gut an independent congressional ethics board.

The dizzying about-face came as lawmakers convened for the first day of the 115th Congress, an occasion normally reserved for pomp and ceremony under the Capitol Dome. Instead, House Republicans found themselves under attack not only from Democrats but from their new president, over their secretive move Monday to neuter the independent Office of Congressional Ethics and place it under lawmakers’ control.

GOP leaders scrambled to contain the damage, and within hours of Trump registering his criticism on Twitter, they called an emergency meeting of House Republicans where lawmakers voted without opposition to undo the change.

The episode, coming even before the new Congress had convened and lawmakers were sworn in, was a powerful illustration of the sway Trump may hold over his party in a Washington that will be fully under Republican control for the first time in a decade. Lawmakers who’ve felt unfairly targeted by the ethics office had defied their own House GOP leaders with their initial vote to gut the body, but once Trump weighed in they backpedaled immediately.

“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,” Trump had asked over Twitter Tuesday morning, in an objection that appeared focused more on timing than on substance. Trump, who will take office later this month, said the focus should be on tax reform and health care, and included the hash-tag #DTS, for “Drain the Swamp,” his oft-repeated campaign promise to bring change to Washington.

Democrats and even many Republicans were quick to point out that the lawmakers’ plans for their ethics watchdog flew in the face of that notion. The measure was part of a rules package that faced a vote in the full House later Tuesday and looked like it could fail after Trump registered his objections.

“We were elected on a promise to drain the swamp and starting the session by relaxing ethics rules is a very bad start,” said GOP Rep. Tom McClintock of California.

Said GOP Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma: “People didn’t want this story on opening day.”

The Office of Congressional Ethics was created in 2008 after several bribery and corruption cases in the House, but lawmakers of both parties have groused about the way it operates.

Lawmakers were especially incensed by an investigation of members of Congress from both parties who went on a 2013 trip to Azerbaijan paid for by that country’s government. Lawmakers said after the investigation was made public in 2015 that they had no idea the trip was paid for by Azerbaijan’s government, and the House Ethics Committee ultimately cleared the lawmakers.

Once the ethics controversy was dispensed with on Tuesday, lawmakers in both chambers of Congress returned to the ceremonial business. As set out in the Constitution, both chambers gaveled in at noon, and as storm clouds threatened outside, the halls of the Capitol filled with lawmakers’ children, friends and spouses on hand to witness the procedures. The day had a festive feel of the first day back at school, as new arrivals roamed the halls with old hands, exchanging greetings and taking in the day.

In the Senate, seven new members joined those who won re-election in taking the oath of office administered by Vice President Joe Biden. The Senate will be controlled 52-48 by the GOP and includes two new Republicans and five new Democrats. They include Illinois’ Tammy Duckworth, a double-amputee Iraq war vet, who walked to the dais and stood for the oath.

Biden remains president of the Senate until Trump becomes president Jan. 20; then Vice President-elect Mike Pence will take over.

In the House, lawmakers filled the House chamber to elect their speaker, with Paul Ryan piling up the votes needed to retain the post, as expected. The House will number 241 Republicans and 194 Democrats; among the members are 52 freshmen.

Swearings-in of House members were to follow the speaker election.

The first week of the new Congress will be a preview of the hectic pace planned by Republicans for the start of Trump’s term. The GOP is eager to turn to the business of dismantling Obama’s health care law, and that effort is to begin with a procedural vote later in the week in the Senate. Obama plans a rare trip to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to meet with congressional Democrats and discuss strategy for saving the health care law. Pence will meet with Republicans.

Votes also are expected on resolutions to denounce the United Nations for condemning the construction of Israeli settlements.

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  • Bad policies need to go; what good does taxing innovation do? We already have a vile graduated income tax that punishes hard work and productivity so let’s see real change, let’s see the leviathan return power to society.

    • Repealing the ACA is just the beginning. Why, the Republicans ask, do everyday working people need health care coverage? They believe the U.S. should remain the only developed Western country in which people who worked their entire lives find themselves on the streets–or dead–because they have no health care coverage. But, of course, our elected “representatives” and their mega-donors have the best healthy care coverage money can buy.

      • Dude, why don’t you ask your fellow Donkey “representatives” why they exempted themselves and other government workers from getting into this “affordable” care act? They and the rest of us know now what’s in it and it is no good that is the reason why they exempted themselves from this “affordable” care act. You are just another Grubber subject buying into whatever the snake oil salesmen–>Demoncrats.

        • I think this issue about congressional health care you speaking about applies to ALL members of congress. It’s not just your so called Donkey “representatives” who have the kind of coverage you ranting about.
          I just hope we don’t find out that after dismantling the AFC, the 20,000,000 who found coverage will now be with out health care.
          I suspect they will follow the AFC, change some things about it and call it Trump Care. It’s good that universal health care is in the forefront of discussions.

        • I suggest you ignore the fake news source that told you that members of Congress exempted themselves from the ACA. They get their health coverage through the ACA.

      • WHS1966:

        Regarding:
        “Repealing the ACA is just the beginning. Why, the Republicans ask, do everyday working people need health care coverage?”

        I’m one of these “everyday working people”.
        I have health insurance and it’s NOT ACA !!!
        My rates went up, up, up due to ACA.

        Health Care is a privilege, not a “right” mandated by the Constitution.

    • Public outrage forced Republican theives to back down from their power grab. Real conservatives will police constituional liberties and public ethics and accuntability carefully. The stooges of the rich beware. The publoic will not support this kind of rip off anymore.

  • GOP takeover of Congress started from 2010 is a repudiation of O’s policies….from Obamacare to Domestic Divide to World on Fire.
    #MAGA BEGINS!

    • And the first thing they were going to do was gut the Ethics Board so they wouldn’t need to be ethical, yeah great going by *your* GOP congress that you cheer. Amazing that Trump made a comment against it but it worked and I give him credit for doing so. You JohnRicey get no credit for clear thinking.

  • In 2004, Republicans gained control of Congress and their members, with the enthusiastic support of Mike Pence, set about to drastically relax ethics rules, which weren’t that strong to begin with. The result was a series of primarily Republican scandals (DeLay, Abramoff, etc) that sent several people to jail. In reaction to those scandals, they lost control in 2006 and next Congress established the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. Yesterday, following the lead of a President-Elect who says that ethical laws and standards don’t apply to him, House Republicans dialed their way-back machine to 2004 and held a secret vote to gut the OCE. Looks like they’re draining the swamp into their punchbowls and swilling it down.

    • Thanks, bsdetection, for letting people know that the very first thing the Republicans did was gut the Office of Congressional Ethics (an oxymoron, to be sure). This clears the way for unbridled self-serving, the likes of which have never been seen in the U.S. And why did the SA fail to run an AP article on this?

        • Hillary’s gone. Repugs need to get over that. No more dog to beat or can to kick down the road. It’s ALL trumpf now. That and the tweet,lol. No press,no ethics, people this is just the beginning.

      • It HAS been seen before as Kirk and the Hawai Demos decimated the Honoluku Ethics Comission and Totto who should have been the independent body reviewing ethica violatuons by HPD, the police chief and the Oahu rail project. I was the Feds that finally are investigating HPD, the chief and his city prosecutor wife ans the FTA under Trump hopefully will finally investigate the Oahu rail project for waste, graft, incompetence and lying to the Hawaii residents and rescind the $1.2 BILLION in federal funding AND shed light of the Oahu rail project to the nationa and the rest of the world. And don’t talk about uprecedented ‘self-serving’ as Demo Hillary with her unsecure hime brew email server for top secret e,ails,who should have been prosecuted like Genersl Petraeus or Demo leaders Podesta and Wasserman-Schulz manipulating the Demo party nomination process to guarantee Hillary would defeat Sanders and Gabbard

        • Nannyboo: I know rail is headed for the scrapyard by Trump and hiS FTA but you need to keep up. Tulsi Gabbard was Bernie Sanders vice-presidential running mate and had the Democratic party insiders played fair, Bernie and Tulsi might have been on the Democratic ticket to face Trump and Pence.

      • It is bad optics.

        But an article that uses inflammatory language like
        ” a secretive move to gut an independent ethics board”
        without explaining what the Board is now, and what the changes will be, looks to me more like a hit piece than journalism.

        • Although without this style of “journalism”, our resident crickets wouldn’t be able to pump up their blood pressure. Always fun to watch the indignation long before the facts..

        • “Meaningless, incessant, and impotent..”

          You must be referring to the obnoxious SA Trumpettes.

    • This is good news. If Trump follows through with his taxing “foreign made” products we might see the likes of Nike, Gap, Martha Stewart products and a lot of clothing and electric products come back to the US. I hope Trump was not just talking about large auto makers only.

      • I hope Trump makes wise policy choices. He has opportunity to fix many lingering problems with climate pollution, immigration, tax policy, infrastructure, health policy and a host of other issues that have been blocked by the Republican “do nothing’ Congress for 6 years. There will be no excuses or people to blame if Trump fails to deliver in the next 4 years.

    • When they shut down the Hawaii Health Connector did Hawaii’s health insurance industry go into chaos and many people died as a result of not getting health care in Hawaii? Rhetorical question, the answer is NO. Obamacare was too overreaching. All they had to do, which the Republicans and Trump should do is have the feds target only the gap group of those who have difficulty getting health insurance like those with pre-existing conditions. For everyone else, create an open market across all states, allowing reputable, reliable and well run insurance carriers that can compete with monopolies like HMSA in Hawaii. Also take care of Americans first and not require govenment supported health services for illegal aliens in the US.

      • sounds good….! now to set it up correctly so that it can be implemented easily, quickly, and MANAGED WELL! the HAWAII HEALTH CONNECTOR should be examined as HOW TO NOT DO health care managing. scccccccrutinize it carefully , then do everything oppositely. we’ll just have to see how the new administration plans to accomplish this feat. i submit that it is not impossible – when government stands back and lets sound business logic move forward.

      • There was an open market for those who wanted to get it. The problems was many who could get it didn’t, by choice. So the regulations was implemented that you had to prove you had insurance. Seems you can’t force someone to get insurance.
        What happens when someone gets sick and in need of medical care but have no insurance? Who pays for the ER visit?
        Universal healthcare is not new. Other countries have it.

  • The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result every time. Expect another 4 years of obstruction and nothing getting done.

    • 2012 was a repeat vote of 2008 vote….as krusha stated “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result..” >> BARACK huINSANE OBAMA!

  • It is only the beginning. Bye Bye Barry !!! It’s great to see you go. Glad to hear that BO will give his farewell speech from his hometown, Chicago a sanctuary city.

    • Yes welcome the new crooks. lol, Doing away with ethics is just so predictable when it comes to republicans. Meet the new boss, far worse than the old boss. We shall see how the Donald performs.

      • Ha, wrong! Congress Republicans canceled gutting the OEC after disapproval from PE Trump and public outcry. So not like Obama who shoves it down our throats when he has an agenda even when the public is nothappy. Remember the ACA? We’ll read it after we pass it! At least Trump has leadership and listens to the public.

        • Nalo, of course there are 2 sides to each story. While you might think BO was shoving down the throats of some people, to others was salvation being given.
          So, while you may not be positively entertained with the idea, there are those that think different from you.
          Just saying.

        • Trump did not say we aren’t going to dismantle this office. He just said it’s not the right time He and his majority will probably want to do this in a more quiet manner. Less flak means better PR.

      • Hawaii, with complete control by Democrats and strict gun laws, has the lowest rate of gun violence and deaths in the nation.

        Go figure, little Trumpette.

        #MAGA?

    • Repubs and Trump should target the gap group of those who have difficulty getting health insurance like those with pre-existing conditions. For everyone else, create an open market across all states, allowing reputable, reliable and well run insurance carriers that can compete with monopolies like HMSA in Hawaii. Also take care of Americans first and not require govenment supported health services for illegal aliens in the US. Also put in price drug controls that prevent private companies who own the rights to certain drugs from gouging the public such as what was done with the Epipen for those who have severe allergic reaction or possbily asthma. Also create a national Fed panel of independent experts that can oversee insurance carriers like HMSA to see if they are adhering to appropriate approval or denial of services and can fine or rescind them doing business if they are shortchanging the public. The Feds do NOT have to be an insurance carrier that competes with private insurance carriers but what they need to be is the independent overseer to help keep check waste, graft and corruption that drives health care costs up and prevents US citizens from getting adequate health care.

  • “have blamed as a primary cause for a lackluster economic recovery. ”

    I am not so sure about this.

    The main Obamacare complaint is that it is poorly designed and was deviously implemented.

    It is my understanding that the claimed primary causes for a lackluster recovery are things like:
    Absolute bonkers EPA regulations
    Job killing taxation
    Poor trade deals
    etc.

    • I have had to no longer hire full-time and while two part-time jobs looks better on the skewed employment count it is a pain. Yet, it is the only way I dare hire at all. Hopefully these problems can be fixed. I do believe however that the first change needs to be that all house Ans senate members have the same health care benifits that all the rest of us live with.

    • The Demoncrats who created this tax law exempted themselves and every government workers from this “affordable” care act because they knew it was bad, but the Grubber subjects will buy into the talking point of “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” BS or the “if you have insurance, you will be able to keep that insurance” BS. And the other lie “your insurance will not increase” BS.

      • Now that the Republicans have total majority in all chambers, you should lobby them to get rid of the health care program all members of congress is under and force them to participate in the ones everybody else is insured under.
        Remember, there are a lot of different insurers with a lot of different levels of coverage.
        I think the Demoncrats couldn’t have created a tax law that only exempted themselves, yes? Think they had help from the other party too?

  • Yea, who needs ethic control…? And the rebublikans want to do a good job? Unsupervised?
    I can only fear what the next years are going to teach about unrestricted corruption.

  • The GOP blamed President Obama for everything for eight years, imagined or not. Now, with the GOP in control of the White House and Congress, they will be indisputably to blame for screwing up our country. But, I bet they will still blame someone else. They’ve been doing it for decades. It’s ingrained in their DNA.

  • simply amazing.

    not only has president elect trump persuaded u.s. companies carrier and ford to abandon their plans to move u.s. jobs out of country, but he has persuaded his own congress to abandon their attempt to punish the independent office of congressional ethics.

    president elect trump still has 17 days before taking office and he already has surpassed the legacy of obama’s awful past eight years as sitting president.

    • Well if it takes a tweet from PEOTUS to call attention to the GOP Congress then Does anyone use a landline anymore? Or did GOP RYAN (dragging the feet endorser) think he was running the show? HELLO HOUSTON we have an embarrassing problem. PE and GOP CONGRESS don’t communicate. Day 1 Congress 1 snafu. This will be fun. The circus has come to town.

  • Hahahahahaha. Lol. Hahahahahaha. Don’t these congress guys know who the BOSS is? IF IT TWEETS,IT’S THE WORD. YOU’RE FIRED !! #NANAKULIBOSS #WHITEHOUSEBOSS

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