House Dems seek to curb presidential power with new bill targeting potential abuses

House Democrats unveiled a sweeping package of government reforms Monday aimed at curbing future abuses of power by a president and strengthening congressional oversight powers, in response to the conflicts they’ve had with the Trump administration in the last three years. 

The legislation, called the “Protecting Our Democracy Act,” wouldn’t pass the Republican-controlled Senate even if it were to pass the House before the end of the current Congress, but it is among the bills Democrats have prepared, should they recapture the Senate and White House this November. It would complement H.R.1, another reform package targeting voting rights, campaign finance and government ethics House Democrats passed in 2019. 

The committee chairs who authored the legislation say it will prevent future abuses and restore the balance of power between Congress and the White House, and they argue that the foundation of democracy is “deeply at risk” without changes.  

“Since taking office, President Trump has placed his own personal and political interests above the national interest by protecting and enriching himself, targeting his political opponents, seeking foreign interference in our elections, eroding transparency, seeking to end accountability, and otherwise abusing the power of his office,” the chairs 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 latest legislation tries to claw back more power for Congress and to curb the president’s power under the Constitution, an area where Democrats have struggled, despite hundreds of hours spent on investigations of the current administration and impeachment proceedings that ended with the president’s acquittal in the Senate. 

It would speed up the process by which Congress can turn to the courts to enforce a subpoena and empower the courts to fine government officials who fail to comply. Democrats have used the contempt process to try to compel Attorney General William Barr, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and former White House Counsel Don McGahn to comply with subpoenas, only to see those efforts stall in court or fail to produce documents they sought. 

There are also provisions aimed at limiting the administration’s ability to govern through emergency declarations or to divert federal funds away from the use intended by Congress. 

The bill would also try to curb potential political interference by the Justice Department, and even allow fines against White House officials who violate the Hatch Act by engaging in partisan political activity while acting in an official capacity. An ethics watchdog for the White House recommended that one of President Trump’s key advisers, Kellyanne Conway, be fired for violating the act, but she faced no consequences from the White House. 

Other measures would strengthen protections for whistleblowers in the federal government and try to give further support to the inspectors general who independently investigate federal agencies.  

The president himself would face increased scrutiny and limits on his ability to issue pardons or commutations to relatives or officials who were found to have obstructed Congress. Self-pardons would

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White House moves to curb policing of corporate misbehavior

“We’ve seen regulatory enforcement drop to historic lows across agencies in the Trump administration,” said Amit Narang, regulatory expert at the public interest group Public Citizen. “So, I don’t see it as a shift in priorities, but more as like a codification of what is already the policy.”

The memo applies to a broad swath of enforcement activity, including vehicle safety, fair housing and environmental and labor protections.

It doesn’t address independent agencies like the Federal Reserve, Securities and Exchange Commission or the Federal Communications Commission, which don’t answer to the White House. But it implements a section of an executive order issued by President Donald Trump in May, which seems to cover those agencies as well.

The White House doesn’t have the ability to compel independent agencies to go along with the guidance, but they are run by Trump appointees.

The memo says investigations should take place within a specified timeframe and urges agencies to eliminate “multiple enforcement actions for a single body of operative facts.”

“The initiation of investigations and enforcement actions should carry the structural protection of requiring approval of a [political appointee] or, if necessitated by good cause, his or her designee,” according to the document.

The memo calls on executive agencies to issue any rules updating their enforcement practices by Nov. 26 with a request for public comment.

“President Trump’s executive order upholds the rule of law, presumption of innocence and independent adjudication,” a spokesperson for the White House budget office, which houses the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, said in a statement.

“These principles protect both individuals and small businesses while at the same time enforcing the law against wrongdoers. Providing a fair process for all Americans is what’s at the heart of this executive order,” the spokesperson said.

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What Your CURB Appeal, Says About Your House?

There is much discussion about what, we, in real estate, refer to, as curb appeal, but, very little, detail, or reasons, as to why, this is such an essential consideration, in terms of, precisely, how important, and why, this is so! We need to carefully examine, and review, what potential, qualified buyers, see, from the CURB, in order to use, this concept, to the homeowner's best avail! Although, this is important and essential, I have come, to realize, in my, well over a decade, as a Real Estate Licensed Salesperson, in the State of New York, far too often, this key consideration, is, either, overlooked , and / or, neglected. With that in mind, this article will attempt to, briefly, consider, examine, review, and discuss, using the mnemonic approach, what this means and represents, and why, it matters.

1. Clear; create; character; closer: When marketing and selling a house, one of the key components, is to attract qualified, potential buyers, to take a closer look, and seriously, consider, the house, as a candidate, to become their future home! Enhancing curb appeal, helps to create, a more motivating, inspiring, image, to take a further look! How can you, show – off, the best features, and character, of a house, if you can't get them, to come in? When the house, is clear of distractions, etc, more people will take a look!

2. Uses; useful; urgent; usual / unusual; unique: Eliminating distractions lets you, demonstrate the positive, useful, uses, and strong – points, of a particular property! When it is clutter, and distraction – free, it's easier to make an urgent appeal, to prospective buyers! When the curb appeal, is a positive one, it makes it possible to demonstrate, both, the usual, as well as unusual, best features!

3. Relevant; realistic; responsive; reasonable: Instead of making a bad, first impression, make it possible, to provide a more realistic perspective, in a relevant way! Making something relevant to buyers, and doing so, simply, by taking some reasonable steps, makes, sense! Doesn't it?

4. Benefits; bring; better; best: One can use better marketing, when curb appeal, becomes a positive, rather than negative, and / or, neutral one! If you want to bring, the best results, you will need, to clearly, demonstrate, the benefits, of your home!

Don't neglect, or overlook, CURB appeal, if you hope, to make the selling process, for your home, the best and most beneficial! Will you proceed, wisely, and carefully?

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