By Katie Reilly
January 3, 2017

President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday said Congress should prioritize issues other than gutting the Office of Congressional Ethics, while still calling the watchdog body “unfair.”

“With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act and priority,” Trump said in two tweets on Tuesday. “Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance!”

His comments followed a vote by House Republicans on Monday to weaken the independent ethics office, a move that sparked criticism from Democrats and government watchdog groups. The office was created in 2008 to investigate corruption and misconduct by lawmakers. Under the changes, the office will be controlled by the House Ethics Committee, which is run by lawmakers.

In a statement following Trump’s tweets, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan defended the move.

“After eight years of operation, many members believe the Office of Congressional Ethics is in need of reform to protect due process and ensure it is operating according to its stated mission,” he said. “I want to make clear that this House will hold its members to the highest ethical standards and the Office will continue to operate independently to provide public accountability to Congress.”

Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com.

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