By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
WASHINGTON—Tuesday, January 3, 2017, Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) supported killing changes to the Office of Congressional Ethics. The changes included renaming the OCE the “Office of Congressional Complaint Review,” placing it under the oversight of the House Ethics Committee. The bill would have also required the OCE to adhere to the Bill of Rights and 14th Amendment Equal Protection and Due Process provisions that citizens in America’s judicial system are guaranteed.
“In my view, it is inappropriate to consider an issue of this magnitude with so little public debate and so little time for proper evaluation and consideration,” stated Brooks. “The final version of the proposed changes to the Ethics Office was provided to Congressmen with less than 24 hours before a scheduled House floor vote. While the ethics reform contains some positive policy changes (such as guaranteeing Congressmen accused of ethical violations the same protections afforded citizens in America’s judicial system), it also contained questionable provisions which warranted further review and understanding.
“While I support reasoned strengthening of the ethics process and the protection of the rights of people accused, the reform proposed this week was rushed, inadequately researched, and inadequately understood by Congress and the public. I disfavor last-minute, major policy revisions. Under these circumstances, I opposed inclusion of major changes to the Ethics Office in the rules package that will govern House operations for the next two years. I am thankful that President-elect Trump agreed and intervened. And I believe the House Leadership acted wisely when it withdrew the proposed Ethics Office changes.”
The House Republican Caucus had received lots of criticism for the decision to neuter the ethics office on Monday night. President-elect Donald Trump (R) harshly criticized the measure, stating 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. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS.”
US Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Alabama) said on social media, “I voted against this proposed rule change last night, and I am pleased to see that it will no longer be included in the House Rules package. Changes may be needed to the Office of Congressional Ethics, but the debate should be open and bipartisan.”
The change to the rules of the House was introduced by Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) in the Monday night caucus session before the 115th Congress actually began.
Congressman Mo Brooks represents Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District.