Reducing Oversight on Congress

Photo by Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/1/3/14154332/office-of-congressional-ethics

Named the first director of the OCE in 2008, Wise says that perhaps the most important thing to know about the agency is not its broad, sweeping powers to protect House ethics but how little it can actually do.

“This is a fact-gathering operation. All it does it gather facts,” says Wise, who served as director from 2008 to 2010. “The idea that [the members are] being abused by this doesn’t make any sense.”

Unlike other similar agencies, the OCE can’t issue sanctions. It can’t force members of the House to testify or turn over evidence and documents. Congressional members ultimately retain authority over its decisions. The OCE can’t even say if it thinks a member of the House did something wrong.

What the OCE can do is much simpler: issue fact-based reports through investigations conducted by the attorneys on its staff.

And from https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/gop-to-start-on-ambitious-conservative-agenda-as-congress-convenes-today/2017/01/03/6117cbe2-d1a1-11e6-945a-76f69a399dd5_story.html :

The OCE was created in 2008 to address concerns that the Ethics Committee had been too timid in pursuing allegations of wrongdoing by House members. Under the current House ethics regime, the OCE is empowered to release a public report of its findings even if the Ethics Committee chooses not to take further action against a member.

 

An OCE spokeswoman declined to comment Monday. Because Monday’s vote was taken in a private party meeting, there is no public tally of how members voted on the proposal. (same article)

 

Rationale?: The only argument I saw was that it’s redundant with the Ethics Committee itself (which is why I shared that first follow-up comment).

I think this would be a great opportunity to reach out to Republican law-makers and thank them for having a backbone, but unfortunately who supported what isn’t public (hence my second follow-up comment).

2018 Elections

I am not an expert in politics or policy, so take what I’m about to say with that grain of salt.

It seems to me that the most impactful way to combat the decisions we’re seeing that we feel do not represent our country’s best interest is to make our elected officials earn their paychecks.

Here are the Senators, Representatives, and Governors who are up for re-election in 2018. What public stances have they taken on things the new President has done and expressed intent to do (or in the case of his tax returns, failed to do)? Were they public enough? Were they vocal enough?

Feed them praise when they earn it, be proud of their vocal opposition and share that pride. And until then- flood their offices with your concerns, and encourage your friends to do the same, until you get the public statement from them that represents you.

https://en.wikipedia.org/…/United_States_Senate_elections,_…

https://en.wikipedia.org/…/United_States_House_of_Represent…

https://en.wikipedia.org/…/United_States_gubernatorial_elec…

I’m going to try to figure out a way to make this easier, because I know what I’ve described sounds like a lot of work- but the current situation is insane and something has to be done. Reading or writing another think-piece about how marching is not enough but not offering an actionable alternative is not helpful.

Please feel free to point me in the direction of anything I may have missed!

No Recording in Congress

While I’m sure there are many private meetings and were I a Congressman I’d be fed up with legislator selfies, as an outsider I can’t help but feel concerned about the recent efforts that seem designed to hide from us what our elected officials are doing with the power and tax dollars we’ve entrusted them with.

 

UPDATE: I’ll hunt down a more reliable source for this than Daily Kos when I actually get around to updating this. List of who voted how here: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2017/roll006.xml And the actual text of the bill here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-resolution/5/text