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
- “Deciding What’s a National Emergency Needs to Be the Work of Two Branches” (Elizabeth Goitein, The Fulcrum, March 27, 2021)
- “After Four Years of Abuse, Tangible Fixes Abound for Restoring the Rule of Law” (Martha Kinsella and Daniel Weiner, The Fulcrum, March 17, 2021)
- “The Law Governing National Emergencies Needs Fixing” (Elizabeth Goitein, New York Times, Feb. 12, 2020)
- Proposals for Reform: National Task Force on Rule of Law & Democracy (Brennan Center, Oct. 2018)