Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Top Democrats Unveil an Anti-Corruption Reform Package

September 23, 2020 Updated: September 24, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Chairs of various House committees on Wednesday unveiled an anti-corruption package that updates the post-Watergate reforms, with most crafted in response to the actions taken by President Donald Trump and his administration.

The Protecting Our Democracy Act is a 158-page document that includes reforms, such as who the president can pardon. Pelosi said, “Our chairs have crafted a robust reforms package that can stand up and prevent an assault on our democracy, including abuse of the pardon power.”

The legislation was offered by critics of President Trump including, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Budget Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), House Administration Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and other top members of House committees.

“Our democracy is not self-effectuating—it takes work and a commitment to guard it against those who would undermine it, whether foreign or domestic,” the seven House committee chairs unveiling the bill said in a statement. “It is time for Congress to strengthen the bedrock of our democracy and ensure our laws are strong enough to withstand a lawless president.”

The Democrats referred to President Trump’s pardon of Roger Stone, whom they say was a close associate to Trump and under the reform would be prohibited.

“This package is future-focused, intended to ensure checks and balances, not only during this term but for any future president,” said Pelosi at a press conference on Wednesday.

The White House did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times for comment.

jerrold-nadler-700x420
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) prepares for a markup hearing on a series of bills on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 10, 2019. (Patrick Semansky/AP Photo)

The package also includes a provision that authorizes the House and Senate to be able to enforce subpoenas. Nadler criticized the Trump administration for not complying with past House subpoenas.

“For example, the administration has defied congressional subpoenas time and again in investigations on topics ranging from manipulation of the census, to obstruction of justice, and even during the impeachment process,” said Nadler. “Congresswoman Madeline Dean’s bill, which provides an expedited streamlined process for the House and Senate to enforce the subpoenas in the courts, and to ensure that we can conduct proper oversight,” Nadler added.

Another provision in the package is a bill that gives additional anonymity to whistleblowers and protection from retaliation. Chairwoman Maloney said, “We are witnessing a president who retaliates against whistleblowers and inspectors general, obstructs investigations to root out waste, fraud, and abuse and openly mocks the law. It must stop.”

“(The bill) give[s] whistleblowers the opportunity to challenge retaliation in court and prohibit disclosing a whistleblower identity,” Maloney continued.

The package includes another bill that would restrict who the president can appoint to a federal position and another that would punish officials for violating the Hatch Act by fining them $50,000 if they do not abide by the rule.

Chairman Yarmuth introduced a bill that would require the president get Congressional permission before withholding any funds, and require more transparency and oversight of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

“I introduced a bill called the Congressional Power of the Purse Act, and that is Title V of the Protecting Our Democracy Act, has three major tenants it restores Congress’s central role in funding decisions. It increases transparency and accountability on the behalf of the administration through OMB. And it strengthens existing budgetary law in a number of ways.”

Chairwoman Lofgren said, “An important aspect of these reforms is to protect our elections from foreign interference.”

Lofgren’s bill requires political campaigns to report any interference by foreign governments in the election process. It seeks to prohibit “opposition research, and private polling.”

“Today is the latest step in our critical effort to hold this president and all presidents accountable. This bill is the culmination of many works many months of work by the Caucus to identify the most crucially needed reforms to our laws to constrain a lawless president,” said Rep. Schiff.

The legislation has no chance of passing, although Schiff said, “I think these reforms will have bipartisan support next year.”