Issue One sent a letter to House Ethics Committee Chairwoman Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Ranking Member Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) calling on the committee to review current ethics rules and announce the schedule for open hearings related to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).
The Ethics Committee’s first public meeting of the 115th Congress on Wednesday, March 22, lasted approximately five minutes, which is notable primarily for what was not discussed: House Republicans’ attempt in January to significantly weaken the Office of Congressional Ethics.
Following a reversal of this decision and the proposed House rules changes offered by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Rep. Brooks announced “that her panel would review bipartisan changes to the OCE’s mission in the coming months, culminating in a proposal to be delivered before the House’s August recess.” In addition, House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), following the January fight, said, “there’s a bipartisan way to better reform the office.”
In light of these comments, Issue One also attached proposed changes outlined in the Ethics Package of Reforms for the 115th Congress, which were endorsed by a coalition of advocacy and legal groups.
The House Ethics Committee plays a critical role in guiding ethical behavior of members of Congress and their staff. Open committee hearings, strengthening House ethics rules and addressing rules regarding using public office for private gain are imperative component of restoring public trust in Congress.