WASHINGTON — After public denunciations from watchdogs and criticism from President-elect Donald Trump, House Republicans on Tuesday reversed course and dropped plans to gut an independent agency that polices potential ethical wrongdoing by lawmakers.
The controversy over GOP plans to sharply curtail the powers of the Office of Congressional Ethics overshadowed the opening day of Congress, where Republicans control both chambers and soon will welcome a Republican president for the first time in eight years.
The about-face came a day after House Republicans met behind closed doors and moved to rein in the office, approved by Congress in 2008 as an independent arm to investigate lawmakers after scandals sent three lawmakers and high-flying lobbyist Jack Abramoff to prison.
“House Republicans made the right move in eliminating this amendment that should never have seen the light of day,” said David Donnelly, president and CEO of Every Voice watchdog group, on Tuesday. “Not one voter went to the polls in November hoping Congress would gut ethics oversight.”