Most Congressional Republicans have consistently refused to even try and hold President Donald Trump accountable for his corruption and belligerence, but Congressional Democrats are continuing their work anyway. On Wednesday, House Dems unveiled the Protecting Our Democracy Act, which contains a wide array of new legislative provisions that are meant to compensate for some of the most brazen abuses of power that Trump and his political allies have perpetrated. In part, the bill collects pieces of legislation that had previously been developed separately. The currently GOP-led Senate doesn’t seem likely to take up the bill, but the legislative agenda would no doubt fare better if Democrats win in upcoming elections.
In a joint statement, seven Democratic House Committee chairs insisted the following:
‘It is time for Congress to strengthen the bedrock of our democracy and ensure our laws are strong enough to withstand a lawless president. These reforms are necessary not only because of the abuses of this president, but because the foundation of our democracy is the rule of law and that foundation is deeply at risk.’
As The Washington Post explains, the Protecting Our Democracy Act includes a long list of provisions. (It’s unclear when precisely the House might vote on it.) The legislation “includes measures to restrain the president’s power to grant pardons and declare national emergencies, to prevent federal officials from enriching themselves, and to accelerate the process of enforcing congressional subpoenas in court,” the Post says. The ambitious legislation “also includes provisions to protect inspectors general and whistleblowers, increase penalties for officials who subvert congressional appropriations or engage in overt political activity, and safeguard against foreign election interference.”
On each of these fronts, the Trump administration has failed in some respect. Trump has, for instance, used his power to declare national emergencies for a personal political advantage. Despite the lack of an actual security emergency at the southern border, and despite the opposition of both chambers of Congress, Trump has declared a national emergency over the southern border situation and used his presidential emergency powers as a cover to divert funds towards constructing his long-sought southern border wall.
The new House Democratic legislation includes specifics like an exemption of time spent in office as president from the statute of limitations for any federal crimes; thus, policy against prosecuting sitting presidents couldn’t be used as a get out of jail free card. The legislation also explicitly prohibits presidents from pardoning themselves, demands the submission to Congress of any materials related to any other presidential pardons within 30 days of their issuance, and a whole lot more, like an explicit requirement for political committees to report attempted foreign interference in U.S. elections to federal authorities. In the 2016 presidential race, the Trump campaign failed on this front specifically.
Trump has consistently alleged that investigations of the duly documented corruption on the part of himself and his team are “witch hunts.” In fact, the numerous criminal charges that his closest associates have faced tell a different story. These efforts are not witch hunts. They are reactions to the rampant self-serving corruption on the part of the president and his associates.