Leading House Democrats on Wednesday unveiled sweeping legislation empowering Congress with more muscular oversight and anti-corruption tools to rein in alleged presidential abuses — present and future.
Behind Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare House lawmakers reach deal to avert shutdown Centrist Democrats ‘strongly considering’ discharge petition on GOP PPP bill MORE (D-Calif.), the Democrats are hoping to bolster the congressional checks on the executive branch, as outlined by the Constitution, including efforts to curb abuses of presidential pardons; prevent presidents from profiting personally from the office; and secure administrative compliance with congressional subpoenas.
The legislation has no chance of becoming law while Republicans control the Senate and President TrumpDonald John TrumpOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: ‘This is my country’ Pelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare Trump mocks Biden appearance, mask use ahead of first debate MORE remains in the White House. But it highlights the laundry list of abuse allegations Democrats have lodged against the president over the last four years — and provides Democrats with political ammunition as Congress prepares to leave Washington for the final sprint to the Nov. 3 elections.
“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. And that is exactly what we’re doing [with this package],” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol.
“It is sad that the president’s actions have made this legislation necessary,” she added. “As with other things, he gives us no choice.”
Crafted by some of the Democrats’ top committee heads, the legislative package takes aim at the some of the most controversial episodes of Trump’s tenure.
One proposal would codify the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bars presidents and other federal officials from accepting foreign gifts. Another would expedite the judicial process surrounding congressional subpoenas, which the administration has frequently disregarded leading to lengthy court proceedings.
“Congressional subpoenas are not requests that recipients can easily brush aside,” said Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealRep. Bill Pascrell named chair of House oversight panel Rep. Cedric Richmond set to join House Ways and Means Committee Coons beats back progressive Senate primary challenger in Delaware MORE (D-Mass.), head of the Ways and Means Committee. “They are indispensable as a tool that this body uses to investigate potential wrong-doing … and to prevent future abuses.”
The legislation would also lend new teeth to the Hatch Act — which bars federal officials from promoting political interests during their normal course of duties — by establishing fines of up to $50,000 for violations.
Another provision would strengthen Congress’s powers to dictate federal funding by applying penalties to executive officials who misappropriate taxpayer dollars for pet projects. Democrats have long-accused Trump of abusing that power, including an incident when he tapped Pentagon funding to help build his wall at the Mexican border, and another when he withheld federal