SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- The 115th Congress ushered in its first official day with backsliding, embarrassment, bipartisan criticism and conflicting agendas. On Monday evening, a federal holiday, House Republicans gathered in a secretive closed-door meeting to vote in favor of eviscerating the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). On Tuesday, amid backlash and public pressure, the House reversed its stance, signaling a tumultuous note for Republican-dominated governance. Trump himself tweeted his opposition, urging the House to gut the OCE at a later, more opportune date. “There are things of far greater importance,” the president-elect told reporters. “This was a pointless waste of time. If the Ethics Office actually did its job, none of us would be here anyway. So, I say we just ignore it.”
The Ethical Dilemma of EthicsThe bold move to diminish the OCE’s powers of oversight was supported by a wide margin of representatives, with the final tally at 119 to 74.
The Office of Congressional Ethics materialized in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal, in which the lobbyist admitted to offering bribes to members of Congress. After Abramoff pleaded guilty, senators and representatives banded together to install an independent watchdog that would investigate allegations of corruption and unethical behavior. The OCE also has the authority to disclose its findings to the public, as well as to pursue tips submitted by the public.
Under the proposed reform, the OCE would no longer remain autonomous. The House intended to place the office under the authority of the House Ethics Committee. Such a move would allow legislators to control the investigations against them. The proposal would also bar the OCE from unapproved public discourse.
Interestingly, the issue that sparked political outrage had less to do with abolishing the OCE and more to do with the clandestine operation. Both Democrats and Republicans have chastised the office for its overzealous and overreaching intervention. A transparent, bipartisan discussion may have allowed the vote to pass without incident.
Ethics, SchmethicsAlthough some media have portrayed Trump as critical of the House vote, he agreed that the OCE was “unfair.” His posts on Twitter, which is now the official White House press and policy platform, merely urged patience.
“Look, I’ve already violated so much of the Constitution and so many women and so many minorities and so many ethics rules, and so what?” Trump explained. “I’ve hired Nazis to advise me, made wonderfully racist remarks with nothing more than a flinch, grabbed women’s p***ises and I raped a kid once. And the people made me their president. Don’t even get me started on the stuff Bannon has done. Dark stuff. Very disturbing. Car batteries, rubber mats, mayonnaise, twine and little shoes. Just weird. My point is that if anything the Ethics Office did mattered, we’d probably all be in prison. So let’s move forward with the real agenda.”
After speaking with the House leaders responsible for assembling the Monday vote, Trump laid out the most pressing plans for the administration, assuring Republicans that they can gut the OCE after the priority objectives have been completed:
- Repeal Obamacare and Medicare and Social Security. Replace them with vouchers and the Recover Card, a pay-to-play charge card for medical care that offers greater levels of service based on revolving credit scores.
- Gut the Department of Education and replace all schools with Trump University institutions.
- Pass legislation legalizing incest. Plan lavish dinner date with Ivanka.
- Prove that my fingers are longer and more slender than Kim Jong-un’s.
- Replace White House toilet paper with Egyptian cotton wipes. Include costs on Second Amendment bill or something. Maybe bridge construction or infrastructure.
- Host fundraiser to pay staff.
- Find that candy Vladimir likes. Also track down VHS copy of Spies Like Us.
- Get rid of all those expensive consumer regulations and protections. If people want to eat at Trump Tower Grille and smoke and drive drunk, fine. It’s more money to the businesses that drive our economy. Make a note to invest in funeral homes.
- Call Taiwan again and really sell the idea of a hotel/casino. They’ll budge eventually. I’ve been to Vegas. Nothing but crafty little Chinamen shoveling thousands of coins into A-Team themed slot machines.
- Figure out why Mexicans eat so many tamales at Christmas. Who eats boxes of spicy red candy for Christmas dinner? Tell Sessions to get a few packs for our new Agriculture Secretary.
- Get the name of Ann Coulter’s sexual reassignment surgeon for Kellyanne.
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