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Public Statements

Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WATT. I yield myself 2 minutes.

Mr. Chairman, my amendment to the Legislative Branch bill would decrease funding for the Office of Congressional Ethics, the OCE, by $619,200 and transfer these funds to the spending reduction account.

I have offered this amendment because I believe there is a substantial bipartisan consensus, one, that the responsibilities of the OCE are redundant and duplicative of the House Ethics Committee; two, that the OCE's operations are substantially staff driven, and the staff has taken the OCE's mission well beyond what was intended in the statute that created the entity; three, that the procedures of the OCE are unfair and sometimes abusive of the rights of Members of the House; four, that a substantial part of the funds we spend on the OCE waste taxpayers' money; and, five, that using those funds to reduce our debt and deficit would be a far better use.

In these difficult budget times, I believe we have an obligation to judge the OCE on the same criteria on which we measure other agencies of the Federal Government. Using those criteria, my amendment proposes to eliminate duplication, demand accountability and adherence to the purposes for which the agency was created, demand fair due process treatment for Members of Congress as we would for other employees in both the private and public sectors, and force us to make a choice about how best to use our over $600,000 of taxpayer funds.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. WATT. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.

Let me just address this whole issue of retaliation. This is not retaliation. This is a better use of the money than the OCE is making of it. There is an undercurrent in this House. Everybody knows that the OCE processes have been unfair, undemocratic, and they have singled people out. It should stop, and we should stand up and say that it should stop.

We did not give the OCE the authority to initiate themselves investigations without an outside complaint. They have systematically done that. And to the extent they have done it, we have provided more funding than I think is appropriate, which is why I got the 40 percent as opposed to 100 percent.

I want them to continue to go on with the investigations that are out there. And when other people initiate them, they should be allowed to pursue them. But they should not be allowed to initiate on their own witch hunts against Members of Congress.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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