House Republicans Effectively Gut Congressional Ethics Watchdog

A house rules package would put OCE under the control of the Ethics Committee.

— -- House Republicans have voted to put the independent Office of Congressional Ethics under control of the Ethics Committee -- a move that Democrats slammed in the hours before the new Congress is sworn in.

The amendment says that the office will be known as the Office of Congressional Complaint Review and will "be subject to the authority and direction of the Committee on Ethics," considered a standing committee of the House.

The language limits the reviews that can be conducted as well as the time frame in which alleged violations can be considered.

It also prohibits the board of the new office from employing a press spokesperson.

And it stipulates that if criminal violations are uncovered that they'll be sent to the Ethics Committee first.

The Office of Congressional Ethics was established in 2008 and is the "first ever independent body overseeing the ethics of the House of Representatives," the website says.

"The OCE was formed after members of a congressional task force proposed an independent entity in the U.S. House to increase accountability and transparency," the site says.

The OCE is non-partisan and "in all but one set of circumstances, the report and findings of the OCE Board must be publicly released."

The Trump camp did not immediately respond to a request for comment.