Government watchdog groups on Monday blasted plans by U.S. House Republicans to gut an independent, nonpartisan ethics office that was established 15 years ago to review allegations of misconduct against members of the chamber and their staffers.

The GOP is set to have a narrow House majority once new members are sworn in on Tuesday. The party’s proposed changes to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) were among various controversial policies included in the rules package for the 118th Congress that was unveiled late Sunday.

As Politico‘s Nicholas Wu summarized on Twitter, the Republican proposals “would effectively sack most of the Democratic-appointed board members by instituting term limits and make it much harder to hire staff.”

Wu was among the political observers and ethics experts who pointed out that the changes would likely make it harder to investigate U.S. Rep.-elect George Santos (R-N.Y.), who was caught lying about his education, employment history, and religious background.

Although Democrats have called for Santos to step aside over his campaign trail lies and the Republican Nassau County district attorney has launched an investigation into him, the incoming congressman is still expected to take office on Tuesday.

Kyle Herrig, president of the group Accountable.US, noted in a statement that the move could help not only Santos but also members such as Republican Congressman Jim Jordan (Ohio), who—along with GOP Rep. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), and Scott Perry (Texas)—was referred to the House Committee on Ethics for ignoring a subpoena from the select committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“It’s telling that one of the very first actions of the incoming MAGA Republican-led House will be to kneecap a bipartisan office that oversees congressional ethics,” said Herrig. “This is about protecting their ethically challenged members like fraudster George Santos or January 6 subpoena-defying Jim Jordan from accountability—or perhaps in anticipation of a new wave of corruption allegations and ethics violations from other MAGA extremists.”

“There is certainly no good reason to make it easier for members to get away with ethics violations, which only invites bad behavior,” he added. “It sends a clear message that the MAGA House is more interested in sweeping any corruption amongst their ranks under the rug and performing political stunts against the Biden administration than they are doing anything constructive on behalf of the American people.”

Public Citizen government affairs lobbyist Craig Holman highlighted in a statement that “OCE is a bipartisan ethics office that helps monitor and report on ethics issues involving members of Congress, and frequently makes its recommendations to the House Ethics Committee on a unanimous vote. It has a proven track record of enhancing transparency and enforcement of ethics rules and has gained widespread support among the American public.”

“These are measures that will render the ethics office ineffectual and which no member, from either party, should support,” Holman said of the GOP’s proposed changes. “Today’s Republican Party is rife with ethical transgressions. And it is now trying to make it much harder to hold members of Congress accountable to the standards of decency we expect.”

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