Office of Congressional Ethics Saved Again But Must be Made Permanent

Statement of Aaron Scherb, Common Cause Senior Director of Legislative Affairs

Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s thinly-veiled attempt to scuttle the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) has been turned back by quick action from Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and House Democrats. The office faced newly-enacted arbitrary terms limits that disqualified several sitting Democratic board members and outrageously tight deadlines to replace them and hire staff. Thanks to Minority Leader Jeffries, and his swift appointments of new board members overcoming the GOP effort to gut the OCE, the office is on its way back to holding our representatives accountable.

It is outrageous and telling that Speaker McCarthy attempted to gut ethics enforcement when he is refusing to expel Rep. George Santos (R-NY), who lied blatantly to voters about his biography in order to win office and is currently facing international, federal, and state investigations. Polling shows that 78% of voters in Santos’ district want Santos to resign, yet Speaker McCarthy continues to ignore the public outrage.

Americans expect and deserve accountability from their elected representatives in Washington, and the House Ethics Committee has repeatedly proven itself not up to the task. That is why Common Cause condemned the House rules changes targeting the independent Office of Congressional Ethics when they were passed and joined with more than two dozen other groups to urge Congress to make the office permanent.

This is not the first attempt to do away with the Office of Congressional Ethics, and it will not be the last until it is codified into law.