Less than an hour ago, the House of Representatives turned back an attempt by Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) to slash funding for the Office of Congressional Ethics by 40%, but Congress’s independent watchdog is still in great danger. Rep. Watt has demanded a recorded vote — also known as a roll call vote — which will take place no earlier than 9am Friday morning when the House reconvenes. (Update: votes will likely take place between 10-11:30am). At that time, Mr. Watt and other enemies of the OCE — some of whom are opponents of the accountability it provides — will be able to launch another attack when members of the House vote again on amendments to the 2012 Legislative Branch Appropriations Act.
Democratic leaders who created OCE in the last Congress and Republican leaders who wisely acted to ratify its existence this Congress should rally supporters of ethical government to defeat Mr. Watt’s efforts proposal. If anything, OCE’s budget should be increased and its powers strengthened. A strong Office of Congressional Ethics is a prerequisite for an open and accountable House of Representatives.