House Republicans take aim at congressional ethics rules (again)

Eighteen years ago this month, the House Republican majority took office and immediately got to work gutting congressional ethics rules. GOP members saw the move as necessary, in large part because then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was caught up in a variety of controversies, and leaving the rules intact put his career in jeopardy.

A controversy soon followed, and Republicans agreed to undo the changes: The House ultimately voted 406 to 20 to restore the original ethics rules. (Among the 20 votes who wanted weaker ethics rules were future Sen. Marsha Blackburn and a congressman from Indiana by the name of ... wait for it ... Mike Pence.)

Twelve years later, in 2017, a House GOP majority also planned to weaken congressional ethics rules, before ultimately backing down. Even Donald Trump — who has never exactly been a paragon of virtue — suggested at the time that his party was on the wrong track.

This year, a new House Republican majority is getting to work, and once again, one of their principal goals is undermining congressional ethics. GOP lawmakers approved their sweeping new rules package last night, and as The New York Times noted, the party is once again targeting a familiar priority.