What’s the first thing you’d do? Why, shut off the alarm, of course. House Republicans, anxious to avoid any meaningful oversight of their imminent efforts to rob the country blind, did just that yesterday, voting to put the formerly-independent Office of Congressional Ethics under the control of the House Ethics [sic] Committee. With this move, the GOP effectively announced that the defining feature of Republican governance for the next four years will be an ethical race to the bottom between the GOP-led Congress and Trump’s White House.
Who do you suppose led the effort to find a rock big enough for House Republicans to hide their misdeeds under? If you guessed ‘Republicans who are or have been under investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics,’ give yourself a cookie.
The vote to declaw the OCE was orchestrated by several members who felt they had been wrongfully accused of unethical behavior by the OCE, according to several sources in the room. The sources said several members currently or formerly under the OCE’s microscope stood up to support the pitch, which was eventually adopted by a vote of 119 to 74.
Since the only thing worse than a GOP-controlled Congress is GOP control of the ethical oversight of a GOP-controlled Congress, we should have seen this coming. There simply is no low too low for Republicans to sink to in their relentless, bad-faith pursuit of unlimited, unaccountable power. And you can bet that the “unaccountable” part was an important consideration.
The move effectively gives the ethics oversight and investigative role to the lawmakers themselves and prevents information about investigations from being released to the public.
The amendment bars the office … from considering anonymous complaints and complaints about activity from before 2010.
To be fair, the Chimps can imagine that much of the fun in ethically-challenged hijinks disappears when one later has to answer a bunch of unpleasant questions. And no effort to evade accountability would be complete without an arbitrary statute of limitation. Though now that you mention it, we do wonder what the GOP was up to between, say, 2001 and 2009. On second thought, maybe we’d rather not know.
At any rate, at least now we can’t claim that we weren’t warned. Announcing their intentions this way seems a rather bold and brazen move, but then considering how the GOP got here, nothing strikes us as surprising anymore.
Drain the swamp, indeed. And replace it with a fetid, festering cesspit.
UPDATE: In a move reminiscent of the classic ‘kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar’ moment, House Republicans have backed off what was quickly turning into a PR nightmare. The Chimps trust that this will not mean any meaningful change to what we’re sure will be historically low standards of conduct from the GOP-controlled government. With a proverbial shot-across-the-bow having been fired, we’re confident that nothing so drastic will be necessary.