Brooks, Calvert, Reed praise removal of reforms to Office of Congressional Ethics from House rules package

U.S. Reps. Susan Brooks (R-IN), Ken Calvert (R-CA) and Tom Reed (R-NY) applauded reforms to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) being stricken from a rules package by the House Republican Conference.

Brooks, the chairwoman of the House Ethics Committee, said she would work with her colleagues in the committee to find bipartisan agreement on needed reforms to OCE.

“Many of these reforms are worthy of discussion and debate, and as incoming chairwoman of the House Ethics Committee I am committed to working with my colleagues on the House Ethics Committee to come to a bipartisan agreement on a path forward,” Brooks said. “Together, we can preserve the independence of the Office of Congressional Ethics, maintain the highest ethical standards of the House, and ensure that the American people are informed.”

The OCE operates as an independent, non-partisan entity with the power to review misconduct against lawmakers, officers and staff of the U.S. House of Representatives. But criticism over the activities of the office fueled calls from some Republicans to strip the OCE of some of its power and subject it to oversight by the House Ethics Committee.

House Republicans later dropped their proposal after public disapproval and a rebuke from President-elect Donald Trump.

Calvert said it was not the appropriate time to reform OCE, which is why he voted against the amendment during the House Republican Conference.

“It’s critical that the House focus on the problems we were elected to fix: our broken health care system, the onslaught of job-killing regulations, illegal immigration, and keeping our country safe,” Calvert said.

Reed, meanwhile, said he cares about upholding the spirit of congressional ethics laws, which is why he opposed the amendment to reform the OCE.

“It’s important to recognize that the OCE has not been reformed since its inception in 2008 and does warrant further review, but these changes go too far,” Reed said. “That is why we stood against the changes when they were discussed by the Republican conference. Going forward, we believe the right path is to ensure the independence of the body charged with congressional oversight.”