Democrats begin efforts to curb the president’s post-Trump powers


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WASHINGTON – House Democrats plan to roll out a package of proposed new restrictions on executive power on Tuesday to launch a post-Trump push to strengthen presidential controls that they hope will cope with the post-Watergate scandal and revisions can be compared to the Vietnam War.

The Democrats have spent months negotiating with the Biden White House to refine a wide range of proposals that amount to a point-by-point rebuking the way Donald J. Trump norms his presidency has shaken. The Democrats have compiled numerous bills into a package they call the Protecting Our Democracy Act.

Legislation would make it difficult for presidents to offer or grant pardons in situations suspected of corruption, to refuse to respond to supervisory subpoenas, to spend or to secretly freeze funds that are contrary to the means of Congress, and for fire inspectors or retaliation against Whistleblower many other changes.

The Legislature’s main sponsor, Rep. Adam B. Schiff, a California Democrat, said he hoped it would get a majority vote “this fall.”

While the bill would restrict President Biden and his successors, its implicit reprimand for Mr Trump’s behavior in the White House could limit the number of Republicans willing to vote for it. Under the rules of the Senate, at least 10 Republicans would have to support him for this chamber to vote on such a bill.

Proponents, however, noted that Republican senators had previously endorsed key parts of the bill, such as:

Supporters said they expected the package to be included in the Senate piecemeal, with various pieces annexed to other bills.

“Many of the parts of the Protecting Our Democracy Act previously received significant Republican support in the Senate, and we believe they will come back there under other laws,” said Soren Dayton, a political advocate for the Protect Democracy group, which has worked with advise the legislature on the legal text and promote it.

While proponents are initially trying to get the measures through the House, Democrats clearly perceive it as a response to Trump’s presidency.

Mr Trump’s demonstration that a president can routinely disregard previous norms of restraint in office “has really put our republic on a very weak foundation,” Schiff said in an interview. “Our democracy is proving to be much more fragile than we understood, and this is an attempt to bring into law what we already thought was mandatory.”

At the direction of Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, the bill puts together components that have been developed by numerous legislators and committees of the House of Representatives.

While many of the proposals have been around for years, amid the controversy of the Trump era, they have gained renewed urgency among Democrats and some Republicans.

For example, when pushing for a proposal to add more power to the Hatch Act, which bans federal employees from engaging in campaign policy while working, advocates of the law cited an episode in which a Trump White House employee Kellyanne Conway, by an independent agency for blatant violations of this law. The Trump administration ignored the agency’s request to sanction them and dismissed the result as “blah blah blah”.

Other sections deal with issues that were unclear before the Trump era. For example, one section suggests strengthening the constitutional prohibition on accepting “emoluments” or payments by presidents by stipulating that the anti-corruption prohibition extends to commercial transactions and that enforcement of this rule is facilitated.

Mr Trump’s refusal to part with his hotels and resorts raised the question of whether lobby groups and foreign governments who paid for – and sometimes didn’t even use – numerous rooms in Trump hotels are trying to buy his favor.

Another proposal would address an issue that emerged last November when a Trump-appointed head of the General Services Administration refused to formally “establish” that Mr Biden was the president-elect. This failure to take what was previously a routine step prevented Mr Biden’s transition staff from receiving briefings from agencies his new administration was about to take over, hampering an orderly transfer of power.

To prevent repetition, the bill states that if the head of General Services Administration does not make a decision within 10 days of the election, both campaigns can begin with transitions.

Mr Schiff presented a version of the bill in October 2020 to send a political message towards the election. The Democrats intend to pass the bill this time around and have spent months negotiating with the White House on items officials feared encroaching on traditional executive prerogatives.

House Democrats made some adjustments to the previous version in response to concerns raised by staff members of Mr Biden while others remained in office, according to people familiar with these negotiations.

The House of Representatives dropped a proposal to require the White House to forward its internal communications to the President on pardons to Congress, raising concerns about executive privilege. But it retained another idea, which the administration allegedly objected to, asking the Justice Department to hand over its investigation files into pardons.

Lawmakers also restricted a proposal that law enforcement officials would have to pay out of pocket all fines for disregarding subpoenas. The revised bill will eliminate cases where presidents invoked executive privileges in writing and instructed subordinates not to do so.

The government is also reported to have raised concerns about a proposal to expedite judicial review of Congressional subpoenas. Legislature added a provision requiring Congress to demonstrate to a court in such lawsuits that it had made good faith efforts to negotiate a compromise.

But while the government is said to have raised concerns about separation of powers over a proposal to prevent presidents from firing Inspectors General for no specific reason, such as wrongdoing, the House Democrats kept it in the bill.

A White House spokesman previously said the administration broadly supports most of the “restoring the guard rails” of American democracy, while also committing to working with Congress on the details.

Many components have already been the subject of hearings or amendments in a committee and it is not clear whether Mrs Pelosi will bring further committee measures – and if so, which ones – or when she will bring it to the house floor.

In a statement, Ms Pelosi described the legislation as “a robust, transformative package of democratic reforms that will restore democratic norms and institutions and put in place essential safeguards to prevent any president, regardless of party, from abusing public trust or ours Desecrated democracy ”. . “

The Democrats have also coordinated with multiple stakeholders to develop what they hope will be at least bipartisan support. The groups also include Stand Up America, which was founded after Mr Trump’s surprise election victory in the 2016 election.

Its founder, Sean Eldridge, said in an interview that Stand Up America plans to run digital ads promoting the law, including on Facebook; To distribute explanations of the draft law to the members of the group; and asking them to write letters to the editor and phone the legislature.

“Our plan is to involve our two million members and build a grassroots pressure campaign to support this across the finish line,” said Eldridge.

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