US Republicans ditch plan to shut ethics office after public outcry

Republicans and other congressmen at United states congress

Republicans have ditched a plan to gut the independent body that investigates political misconduct after a backlash.

The lawmakers’ surprise vote to strip the office of congressional ethics of its independence prompted public uproar and a dressing down from President-elect Donald Trump.

Their decision to drop the proposal, which would have curbed the powers of the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent office that investigates allegations of wrongdoing by elected officials, came just hours after lawmakers received a dressing-down by Mr Trump on Twitter.

“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,” Mr Trump tweeted. “Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS [Drain The Swamp].”

Democrats were quick to point out that Mr Trump had not criticised the decision to scale back ethics oversight, but only the timing, a point clarified by Mr Trump’s incoming press secretary.

“[Mr Trump] says their focus should be on tax reform and healthcare. It’s not a question of strengthening or weakening, it’s a question of priorities,” Sean Spicer told reporters.

The proposal had also been criticised by Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

The secretive move, which overshadowed the first day of the 115th congress, was reversed in an emergency meeting.

The ethics committee was set up in 2008 following a slew of scandals that resulted in several house lawmakers being jailed.

Democrats, led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, lambasted the Republicans.

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