Dems: GOP vote to gut ethics office 'dishonest' and 'frightening'

Democrats on Tuesday morning tore into House Republicans for voting to weaken its independent ethics watchdog on the eve of a new session of Congress.

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) described the move as a "terrible moment for Congress" and something Republicans "should be ashamed of." 

"If [the GOP] had campaigned on an idea that they're going to end the Office of Congressional Ethics, what do you think the citizens of the United States would have done? It was dishonest for them to do this in the middle of the night and to try to bring it up without any debate at all," he told CNN's "New Day." 

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The House GOP on Monday adopted an amendment that would put the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) under the oversight of lawmakers through the House Ethics Committee. 

The proposal also bars the ethics office from considering anonymous tips about potential ethics violations and prevents disclosures about investigations. 
 
Ethics watchdogs warn that barring the OCE from reviewing anonymous tips would impede whistleblowers who may fear blowback over a sensitive case.

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) suggested Republicans want to change the rules to pass their agenda without running into ethics issues. 

"They completely blindsided us, and it's absolutely ridiculous. Is there any American out there who thinks Congress is too ethical?" Moulton said on CNN. 

"It's frightening. I guess what they have on their agenda might run into trouble with ethics. I don't know what else would be the reason." 

Moulton vowed that Democrats would "stand up" in opposition as the full House intends to vote on the amendment Tuesday. 
 
 
"We're going to stand up to this just like we're going to stand up to all the things that Republicans want to do that are bad for the American people," Moulton said. 
 
The ethics office was established as an independent, nonpartisan entity by Congress under then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in 2008.

Pelosi described the vote as the "first casualty of the new Republican Congress."