The House on Friday rejected a proposal to cut funding for the independent Office of Congressional Ethics by a 102-302 vote.
The amendment, offered by Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), to the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act would have slashed $619,200 from the OCE’s $1.5 million budget.
Watts, who was himself the subject of an OCE investigation last year and later cleared of wrongdoing, had urged his colleagues to weaken the “redundant and duplicative” office that is “unfair and abusive of the rights of Members of the House,” according to a letter that he circulated Thursday.
Experts say a 40 percent cut in its operating budget would have severely hampered the OCE’s ability to conduct investigations of Congressional wrongdoing and report its findings to the House Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee and the OCE have frequently clashed over the proper application of House ethics standards.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.