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House Republicans may have backed off their plan to curtail the independence of the Office of Congressional Ethics, but Iowa's lone Democratic lawmaker said Tuesday the episode proves the Republicans have no intent to 'drain the swamp” of corruption in Washington, D.C.
And the state's Republicans, meanwhile, were divided.
The swirl of controversy over the office came as lawmakers from both parties were sworn in to the House and Senate and as the nation's capital prepares for life under GOP control.
House Republicans voted Monday night to shift control over the privately governed office to the House Ethics Committee, a move critics said would gut its independence. But the outcry prompted House Republicans to back off about midday Tuesday.
The political fallout already was evident as news coverage was widespread.
Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, said he was 'dismayed that one of the first actions taken by House Republicans in the middle of the night was to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics.”
He said the move proves the GOP 'has already forgotten who they work for - the American people.”
The vote in the Republican caucus Monday night was 119-74, according to national news reports, but there was not a public record of how individual lawmakers voted.
Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, posted to Facebook on Tuesday that he did not support the move.
'I was opposed to the measure that would have reduced the authority of the Office of Congressional Ethics, and am glad to see the provision removed from the Rules of the 115th Congress,” he said.
However, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said he backed the change. He said on MSNBC on Tuesday morning that the office takes anonymous complaints and then leaks information to the news media. He said members in both parties have been damaged by the office.
'I haven't seen any good things come from them, and I've seen many, many bad things come from them,” King said in the interview, which was held before the House reversed course.
The committee was created in 2008 after complaints that the House Ethics Committee was not aggressive enough in policing members. The office can refer matters to the House Ethics Committee, but it is governed by a board of private citizens.