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Democrats propose sweeping bill to curb presidential abuses

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats on Wednesday proposed a bill to curb presidential abuses, a pitch to voters weeks ahead of Election Day as they try to defeat President Donald Trump, capture the Senate from Republicans and keep their House majority.

The legislation, a wide-ranging package of new and revised bills, 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 require better reporting by campaigns of foreign election interference.

Each of the bill’s provisions is a response to actions by Trump or his administration that Democrats see as abuses of presidential power. It builds on an elections and ethics reform package the House passed soon after Democrats reclaimed the majority in 2019.

The sweeping reform package is “designed to address the president’s staggering litany of abuses and ensure they can never happen again by anyone,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who announced the legislation Wednesday along with the heads of seven House committees.

Pelosi called the measure “future focused” and said it would “restore checks and balances not only during this term but for any future president.”

“America has a choice,” Pelosi added, “to repair and strengthen our democracy or to look the other way and enable (Trump’s) actions.”

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee who led Trump’s impeachment last year, said the reform package was needed “to constrain a lawless president” who has “shaken and broken” guardrails in place since the beginning of the republic and strengthened after the Watergate scandal of the 1970s.

“We owe it to the American people to put in place meaningful constraints on power, fix what is broken and ensure there is never again a Richard Nixon or Donald Trump for either party,” Schiff said.

Since taking office, 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,” Schiff and other committee chairs said in a joint statement.

The legislation comes as House Democrats have been repeatedly frustrated — including during impeachment — by efforts to gain information from the Trump administration and as officials have faced little consequence for defying subpoenas and ignoring requests and investigations.

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