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

2017-01-04 06:59
(Evan Vucci, AP)

(Evan Vucci, AP)

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Washington - House Republicans abruptly reversed themselves on 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 on 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 backpedalled 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 on 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.

Read more on:    twitter  |  donald trump  |  us  |  us 2016 elections

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