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EDITORIALS

EDITORIAL: We stand corrected

The York Dispatch
  • This is no time for Americans to let their guard down.
  • This group has signaled loud, clear and really early just how much contempt they have for us.

Huh.

FILE- In this May 19, 2015, file photo, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., listens to testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington. House Republicans on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, voted to eviscerate the Office of Congressional Ethics. Under the ethics change pushed by Goodlatte, the independent body would fall under the control of the House Ethics Committee, which is run by lawmakers. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Well, let us be the first to admit we were wrong about the GOP.

We thought for sure the first order of business for Republicans finally in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House would be to repeal or gut the Affordable Care Act.

Apparently, making good on years of promises to dismantle a system that provides health care to millions of uninsured Americans can wait (but not necessarily until they have a better plan to replace it).

As it turns out, on the eve of the new Congress, the top of the to-do list for a majority of House Republicans was torpedoing an independent congressional ethics board tasked with investigating lawmakers’ alleged bad behavior.

We stand corrected.

Heck, we should have seen it coming — what with absolute power  and so on.

Trump objects after House GOP votes to gut ethics office

Here’s how the breathtaking chutzpah and backlash went down earlier this week:

According to The Associated Press, House Republicans voted Monday evening — behind closed doors, of course — to gut the nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent body created in 2008 to investigate allegations of misconduct by lawmakers after several bribery and corruption scandals sent members of both parties to prison.

Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte pushed for the change, which would have placed the office under the control of the House Ethics Committee. That committee is run by lawmakers — you know, the same men and women the ethics office is supposed to investigate.

The House leadership advised against the move, but they failed to sway rank-and-file Republicans, some of whom have felt unfairly targeted by the Office of Congressional Ethics, the AP noted.

The Republicans threw the change into a rules package and scheduled it for a full House vote Tuesday, the opening day of the 115th Congress.

GOP drops weakening of ethics office, challenged by Trump

By Tuesday morning, word was out, and the angry backlash was in full force, with Democrats, government watchdog organizations and outraged constituents lambasting the GOP for its audacity and demanding it back off.

But it was tweets, of all things, from President-elect Donald Trump, of all people, that may have hastened Goodlatte's and his cohorts' hasty retreat.

“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,” he asked his 18.5-million Twitter followers Tuesday morning.

Within hours, the Republicans had dropped the ethics change from the rules package.

Keep in mind, Trump himself will enter office Jan. 20 with an array of potential conflicts of interests, thanks to his sprawling, worldwide business empire. He’s planning a Jan. 11 news conference to spell out just how he intends to navigate that minefield.

And one might have noticed his Twitter admonitions were tame by his standards, and his issue was with the timing of the House Republicans’ brazen move — not the overreach itself.

This is no time for Americans to let their guard down. This group has signaled loud and clear — and really early — just how much contempt they have for their constituents.

Call or tweet your representatives in Congress today and tell them another attack on ethics and transparency won’t be tolerated.