Post-Trump, Democrats push to curb presidential powers
WASHINGTON — House Democrats say they will vote on legislation this fall to curb the power of the president, an effort to rein in executive powers that they say President Donald Trump flagrantly abused.
The legislation, expected to be introduced Tuesday, would limit the president’s pardon power, strengthen laws to ban presidents from receiving gifts or payments from foreign governments, better protect independent agency watchdogs and whistleblowers from firing or retribution and give Congress better tools to enforce subpoenas. It was written with the input of President Joe Biden’s White House and incorporates a previous version that Democrats introduced just before the November election.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the bill is intended to restore checks and balances between Congress and the executive branch “so that no president of whatever party can ever assume that he or she has the power to usurp the power of the other branches of government.”
The legislation, Pelosi said, is “specific in its remedies and its inoculations against future abuse.”
The bill comes as Trump mulls another run for president and as Democrats defend a thin majority in the 2022 midterm elections. Most provisions in the legislation are in direct response to actions by Trump or his administration that Democrats saw as abuses of presidential power, including his firing of agency whistleblowers, his defiance of congressional subpoenas and his campaign’s interactions with Russians in the 2016 election.
The Democrats say they negotiated the bill with the White House, which thought some aspects of the original legislation went too far. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, the lead Democrat on the measure, said Tuesday that while they haven’t agreed with the administration on every provision, they made specific tweaks to accommodate them. Those changes would allow the White House to continue to protect some information from subpoenas and shield Congress from seeing some confidential communications between administration officials, Schiff said.