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Press Release

House Introduces the Protecting Our Democracy Act; Brennan Center Reacts

The reforms in the bill would help ensure a more ethical and accountable government.

September 21, 2021
Contact: Rebecca Autrey, Media Contact, rebecca.autrey@nyu.edu, 202-753-5904

Members of the House of Repres­ent­at­ives have rein­tro­duced the Protect­ing Our Demo­cracy Act today, a bill of ethics and emer­gency powers reforms. The legis­la­tion was first intro­duced last Septem­ber.   

Wendy Weiser, vice pres­id­ent of Demo­cracy at the Bren­nan Center for Justice at NYU Law, had the follow­ing comment:

“The Protect­ing Our Demo­cracy Act would rebuild guard­rails against abuse of exec­ut­ive power, the checks and balances needed to stop current and future admin­is­tra­tions from misus­ing govern­ment resources for personal and polit­ical gain. The reforms in this bill would help ensure a more ethical and account­able govern­ment, no matter who is in office.

“The Protect­ing Our Demo­cracy Act would bolster the Consti­tu­tion’s emolu­ments clauses, enabling stake­hold­ers to invest­ig­ate and hold the pres­id­ent and other govern­ment offi­cials account­able for illeg­ally profit­ing from state or foreign govern­ments. It would tighten the protec­tions against polit­ical inter­fer­ence by the White House in law enforce­ment matters and increase trans­par­ency around contro­ver­sial pardons. It would protect the inde­pend­ence of inspect­ors general who report on exec­ut­ive abuses. And it would guard against pres­id­en­tial abuse of emer­gency powers by giving Congress more power to check the pres­id­ent.     

“These reforms have been needed for years, with admin­is­tra­tions of both parties some­times step­ping over the line without being held account­able. But the Trump admin­is­tra­tion exploited the gaps in the law to turn the exec­ut­ive branch’s ethics and rule of law prob­lems into a full-blown crisis.

“The bipar­tisan National Task Force on Rule of Law & Demo­cracy, convened by the Bren­nan Center, stud­ied the erosion of norms and prac­tices that have tradi­tion­ally guarded against abuse of power in the exec­ut­ive branch, and its members concluded that legis­la­tion is neces­sary, recom­mend­ing many of the reforms in the Protect­ing Our Demo­cracy Act.

“For the health of our govern­ment, lawmakers should pass the Protect­ing Our Demo­cracy Act.”

Bren­nan Center Resources

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