WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- House Republicans scrapped plans Tuesday to gut the independent Office of Congressional Ethics after widespread criticism of the plan, including from President-elect Donald Trump.
Two hours earlier, Trump criticized his fellow Republicans for plans to curb the powers of the independent ethics panel in Congress' first move of the year.
"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," Trump posted in two consecutive tweets.
During a closed-door meeting Monday night, House Republicans voted 119-74 in favor of Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte's proposal to put the office under the control of the House Ethics Committee, some of whose members would fall under the panel's scrutiny.
Goodlatte defended his proposal.
"There should be no entity in the entire federal government that doesn't have review by some committee of the Congress, so that's all it sets up is oversight," he said in a CNN interview. "It still has its designated statutory responsibilities. It has some new rules that it has to follow but it still is empowered to take complaints from individuals as it was intended to do and investigate those complaints, but every agency of the government -- whether it's executive, legislative or judicial -- should have a committee that reviews its work."
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and McCarthy had urged their colleagues to vote against the idea.
Afterward, Ryan argued that the OCE would still be independent.
"After eight years of operation, many members believe the Office of Congressional Ethics is in need of reform to protect due process and ensure it is operating according to its stated mission," Ryan said in a statement after Trump's tweets. "I want to make clear that this House will hold its members to the highest ethical standards and the Office will continue to operate independently to provide public accountability to Congress."
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed the proposal.
"Republicans claim they want to 'drain the swamp,' but the night before the new Congress gets sworn in, the House GOP has eliminated the only independent ethics oversight of their actions," she said in a statement. "Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress."
Pelosi added: "The amendment Republicans approved tonight would functionally destroy this office."