Political News

House Democrats unveil package of reforms aimed at Trump

Posted September 23, 2020 12:11 p.m. EDT

— House Democrats announced a package of government reforms Wednesday aimed at curbing actions taken by President Donald Trump, in an effort to address what they charge are some of the President's most egregious abuses.

The new legislation has virtually zero chance of becoming law this year, but it's a wish list of policy changes related to everything from government spending at Trump's properties to the President's targeting of whistleblowers and firing of inspectors general. The legislative proposals are a roadmap for what Democrats may do next year if former Vice President Joe Biden wins the White House.

At a news conference Wednesday, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said the package is intended "to restore checks and balances, to protect our elections, and to protect the legacy of our founders."

The legislation is a sweeping package of reforms Democrats want to make in response to Trump. The legislation would require the Justice Department and White House to provide information on pardons issued in cases involving the President, would suspend the statute of limitations on crimes for a sitting president, would update the Emoluments Clause and would strengthen Congress' power to subpoena the executive branch and prevent the administration from diverting funds appropriated by the Legislative Branch.

It would add protections to inspectors general and federal whistleblowers and strengthen penalties under the Hatch Act, which is intended to prevent government officials from engaging in political activity. It also would require campaigns to report foreign offers of campaign help, another item Democrats have pushed in response to Trump campaign contacts with Russians.

Schiff, a Democrat from California who spearheaded the House impeachment inquiry against Trump, acknowledged the legislation is unlikely to pass this year, but he voiced optimism that the proposal could gain Republican allies going forward.

"I think these reforms will have bipartisan support next year, in a new administration, when my GOP colleagues will not want to see a Democratic president do half the things of the current president," Schiff said. "So, while I don't expect to see GOP support in the Senate this year, I do expect these reforms will enjoy bipartisan support in the future."

The legislation was offered by seven Democratic committee chairs, and many of the proposals included in the bill have been previously introduced on their own.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the plan is "future-focused" and that it would help "repair and strengthen our democracy."

"During this once in a generation moment, the Congress has a sacred obligation for the people to defend the rule of law and restore accountability and basic ethics to the government," she added.

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