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Paul Ryan Says "Drain The Swamp" Means Giving More Power Back To Congress

"We’re restoring accountability to the federal government."

Posted on November 17, 2016, at 1:47 p.m. ET

Win Mcnamee / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Speaker of the House Paul Ryan says the oft-repeated campaign slogan "drain the swamp" means giving more power to members of Congress like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Ryan told reporters Thursday that far too much power rests in the hands of federal bureaucrats who now work for President Barack Obama and will soon work for President-elect Donald Trump.

He said Republicans want to figure out how to restore some of that power to the legislative branch.

“We’re restoring accountability to the federal government," he said. "When we say ‘drain the swamp’ that means stop giving all this power to unelected people to micro-manage our society, our economy, and our lives."

Republicans have long criticized the Obama administration for creating regulations through federal agencies — which do not need congressional approval — and recently sent a letter to the president asking that he not implement anymore regulations in the final weeks of his term.

"Draining the swamp" became a prominent pledge on the final leg of Trump's presidential campaign. Trump articulated it as a promise to sweep away the corrupt establishment insiders who run Washington.

"We want to make sure that in this opportunity we have with unified Republican government," he said, "we're restoring the constitution, we're restoring the separation of powers, we're restoring accountability to the federal government."

As to what that would look like, Ryan didn't say. He did, however, express support for term limits — something Trump has said he would like to see happen — but said that process would go through the Judiciary Committee.

"We’re going to be spending the first quarter of 2017 figuring out just how we can make sure we can restore the power of the purse to the legislative branch, to hold the unelected branch of government accountable," he said.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.