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The Brief: Failed plan to gut ethics office splits Texas congressmen

After U.S. House Republicans backed down on their plan to limit the powers of the Office of Congressional Ethics, several U.S. representatives from Texas weighed in on Monday night's secret vote.

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The Big Story

After U.S. House Republicans backed down on their plan to limit the powers of the Office of Congressional Ethics, several U.S. representatives from Texas weighed in on Monday night's secret vote. Here's the story:

House Republicans unleashed outrage from Democrats, watchdog groups — and President-elect Donald Trump — when they moved in a Monday night secret vote to gut the OCE, an investigative arm of the U.S. House. The wave of criticism prompted the members to reverse their decision less than 24 hours later.

Soon after passage, a succession of Texas Republicans released statements indicating a distaste for the Monday vote. Reps. Mac Thornberry of Clarendon, Michael McCaul of Austin, Michael Burgess of Lewisville and John Carter of Round Rock all said they opposed the amendment, while Lamar Smith of Austin said lawmakers should be "held to the highest ethical standard." Rep. Blake Farenthold both supported the OCE revamp Monday night and backed the move to unwind it on Tuesday, according to a spokeswoman.

Among members of Congress, the OCE is a highly controversial institution, an investigative body separate from the House Ethics Committee, which is made up of House members. House leaders created the OCE in 2008 after a number of scandals rocked Congress in the mid-2000s, but since then, its actions on various ethical issues have angered members of both parties, raising questions that the office was using its power to embarrass representatives over alleged transgressions. Rep. Bill Flores, a Bryan Republican, who backed the OCE revamp, on Tuesday described the office as "a creation of [former House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi" that "wasn't structured correctly." 

What We're Reading

(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

Rick Perry's Texas GiveawaysProPublica

Here's A Preview Of Education Issues Texas Lawmakers Could Tackle This Session, KERA

City manager says plan to hire 451 new Dallas cops 'extremely difficult if not impossible', Dallas Morning News

Tarrant lawmakers prepare for Texas Legislature — big needs, tight budgetFort Worth Star-Telegram

Julián Castro, Leveling the Playing Field, The Atlantic

Trib Events for the Calendar

•   Trivia Night on Jan. 8 at The Highball 

•   A Conversation with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Jan. 11 at The Austin Club 

•   A Conversation with the University of Houston's Renu Khator on Jan. 12 at The Austin Club

•   A Symposium on Race and Public Policy on Jan. 13 at Huston-Tillotson University

•   A Conversation with Reps. Dustin Burrows & Drew Darby on Jan. 19 at Howard College – West Texas Training Center

•   A Conversation on Mental Health on Jan. 26 at The Austin Club

•   A Conversation with Sen. Kel Seliger & Rep. Brooks Landgraf on Feb. 17 at Odessa College – Saulsbury Campus Center

•   A Conversation with Reps. Senfronia Thompson & James White on March 31 at Prairie View A&M University – W.A. Tempton Memorial Student Center

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