House Republicans Vote To Gut Independent Ethics Office

In a secret, anonymous, behind closed doors vote, House Republicans made one of their very first actions in the new Congress changing the Office of Congressional Ethics, removing the entity’s independence and barring it from investigating anonymous complaints.

Via Huffington Post:

Specifically, the amendment would place the OCE under the “oversight” of the lenient Ethics Committee and rename it the Office of Congressional Complaint Review. The new group would no longer be able to release information to the public, employ anyone “for a position involving communications with the public,” or directly contact law enforcement without approval. It would also be prohibited from investigating anonymous complaints.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the change would “functionally destroy” the office.

“Republicans claim they want to ‘drain the swamp,’ but the night before the new Congress gets sworn in, the House GOP has eliminated the only independent ethics oversight of their actions,” Pelosi said. “Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress.”

Republicans themselves defended the changes as necessary adjustments to protect members from political witch hunts.

Trump called for “draining the swamp” but his GOP House pals are setting up a system with which they can’t be investigated for ethical wrongdoing.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a statement saying, “Republicans claim they want to ‘drain the swamp,’ but the night before the new Congress gets sworn in, the House GOP has eliminated the only independent ethics oversight of their actions. Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress,” the House Democratic leader said.

See the report below from CNN.

While not commenting on the content of the vote, it appears the Trumpster thinks the timing of the backroom shenanigans wasn’t all that great:

House Republicans Will Allow Vote On Gun Control

Perhaps the sit-in did accomplish something on the issue of common sense gun control.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has apparently agreed to allow a vote in the House on legislation designed to keep suspected terrorists from buying guns.

Now, that sounds like it makes sense, no?

Via ThinkProgress:

According to The Hill, Ryan told Republicans on a conference call “that the House will take up a terrorism package that will include measures to disrupt radicalization and recruitment, as well as a provision to prevent suspected terrorists from purchasing guns.”

Exactly which bill the House would take up was unclear from the conference call, The Hill reported. Because it’s unclear which bill will be brought to the floor, The New York Daily News noted that Ryan could “select a bill considered too weak by most Democrats.”

If the bill is too weak, there is a possibility that House Democrats will continue to protest in one way or another until a better bill is brought to a vote.

Congressional Democrats Stage ‘Sit-In’ Demanding A Vote On Common Sense Gun Measures

From Huffington Post:

Congressional Democrats took over the House floor Wednesday in a ‘sit-in’ demonstration over Republican leaders’ refusal to hold a vote on gun legislation.

Their efforts to achieve this goal continued throughout the night, even after the Republican lawmakers snuck into the chamber at 2:30 a.m. and voted to adjourn the session until Jul. 5.”

C-SPAN broadcast the scene by using a Congressman’s Periscope feed after Congress was declared in recess. Majority Leader Paul Ryan called the move a “publicity stunt.”

Although Speaker of the House had the chamber cameras turned off, Democrats are broadcasting the ongoing sit-in via cellphone camera.

Florida Congressional Candidate Comes Out As HIV+

Bob Poe, former state Democratic party Chair and currently running for Florida’s 10th Congressional District, shared with the public an (until now) private part of his life: that he is HIV+.

From the Orlando Sentinel reports:

Poe, 61, said he was diagnosed with the virus that causes AIDS in 1998 and is currently in good health. He revealed the diagnosis in an interview with Watermark magazine as well as a video posted to his Facebook page. “I have a motto in my life: If you want to make a difference, you have to be the difference,” Poe said in the video. “And so today, I’m trying to be that difference in this community, so that we can begin to solve this problem once and forever.”

In an interview, Poe said he felt compelled to reveal his diagnosis after encountering a recently diagnosed HIV positive woman while canvassing in District 10. “She told me that she’s recently been diagnosed with HIV and thought she had a death sentence,” Poe said. “I really just wanted to hug her and let her know that I, too, have HIV and that I’ve been able to live out all of my hopes and all of my dreams, and she could, too.”

Poe hopes to be an advocate for HIV prevention in Congress, but he has other focuses as well. He supports a $15 an hour minimum wage; job training to help Americans adapt to a changing work environment; and wants to work to change the criminal justice system to be more fair .

You can watch his “coming out” message, via Facebook, below:

Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims Drops Bid For Congress

Pennsylvania’s first openly gay State Representative has announced he will drop his bid for Congress.

From Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims (via Facebook):

I wanted to personally let you know that today I have decided to end my campaign for U.S. Congress.

When I started this campaign it was because I felt Philadelphians deserved an advocate in Congress – someone who would focus on equality for all Americans, creating more and better jobs, and ending the culture of gun violence in our streets.

Having walked the streets of the District, and spoken to thousands of neighbors and constituents, I now feel that my friend and colleague, Dwight Evans, is best equipped to take our fight for justice to Washington, DC and will serve Philadelphia well in Congress.

This was not an easy decision, but please know that I am so grateful for your help and support over these past few months.

For now, I have a re-election campaign to win and I hope that you will continue to support my efforts, especially as I work to expand civil rights and fight for justice and equality as a State Representative.

News Round-Up: October 28, 2015

Baby panda kindergarten

Some news stories you may have missed:

• You know you want to see what baby panda kindergarten looks like at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China. #SuperCuteness

• Outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner and White House may have found enough common ground to pass a two year federal budget bill. See what can happen when Congress does it’s job? Will wonders never cease?

• After 20 years, a man issues an apology to a gay couple he taunted in public.

• Indiana Republican Brent Randall may oppose equal protections for LGBTs, but he believes in his right to have an active profile on a gay dating website. Btw, Randall erroneously believes Indiana state law protects LGBTs – a fact Gov. Pence and all of America is well aware is untrue.

• A month ago, the anti-LGBT group One Million Moms launched a boycott against Frito Lay/Pepsico due to the company’s “rainbow Doritos,” which was a limited run of colorful chips with the intent to raise money against bullying. Not only did the chips sell out in 24 hours, the company’s stock has gone up 10% in one month. Good job, OMM!

Pepsico stock rises 10% in the last month

Congressman Luis Gutierrez Lays Out The Truth At Planned Parenthood Hearing

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Telling Republican the TRUTH About Planned ParenthoodThis is AMAZING. The ending is the best part.The congressman is Luis Gutierrez. Video by Occupy Democrats, LIKE our page for more!Posted by Occupy Democrats on Friday, October 9, 2015

This is seriously a ‘must-see’ moment from Congress.

Congressman Luis Gutierrez doesn’t leave anything out as he speaks the truth at the recent Congressional hearings regarding Planned Parenthood.

All of it gets brought up here – abortion, LGBTs, immigration. He leaves no stone unturned.

Go, Gutierrez.

A Different “Kevin McCarthy” Has A Special Message For You

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An important message from Kevin McCarthy. No, not the Republican House Speaker-in-waiting. Another one. From Iowa.Posted by Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, October 7, 2015