On Tuesday, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) helped introduce the Protecting Our Democracy Act — a sweeping package of reforms that aims to strengthen America’s democratic institutions against future presidents, regardless of political party, who seek to abuse the power of their office for corrupt purposes.
The comprehensive proposals included in the legislation — many of which have been supported by both Democrats and Republicans in the past — aim to restore the government’s system of checks and balances, strengthen accountability and transparency, and protect America’s elections from foreign interference.
“I’ve been to every nook and cranny of our region. I’ve never spoken with anyone – anywhere – who thought elected officials should be able to use their public office for personal profit. I’ve never spoken to anyone – anywhere – who believes that elected officials should be able interfere in independent investigations or punish whistleblowers. I’ve never spoken to anyone – anywhere – who thinks we should allow foreign countries to interfere in our elections. Addressing these issues is what the Protecting Our Democracy Act is all about,” said Rep. Kilmer. “Our government should work for the American people. That’s why it’s important for Congress to root out corruption, strengthen our systems of checks and balances, and prevent foreign interference in our elections. I’ll keep pushing to get this legislation passed and to make government work better for folks.”
The Protecting Our Democracy Act was first introduced during the 116th Congress and reflects Congress’ determination to restore the guardrails of our democratic systems. This year, the bill also stands as the third pillar of the 117th Congress’ efforts to protect, support, and restore America’s democratic systems — complementing both H.R. 1, the For the People Act, and H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Among other things, the Protecting Our Democracy Act will:
- Prevent the abuse of presidential pardons.
- Suspend the statute of limitations on federal crimes committed by a president or vice president to make clear that no one is above the law.
- Enforce the Emoluments Clauses to keep federal officials from profiting off their service.
- Establish tools to enforce Congressional subpoenas and ensure federal officials remain accountable to the elected representatives sent to DC by the American people.
- Reassert Congress’ power of the purse by limiting the ability for the president to unilaterally substitute their own funding decisions for those of the Congress.
- Limit Presidential declarations of emergencies to ensure that they cannot unilaterally or unjustly set aside many of the legal limits of their authority.
- Prevent political interference in the work of the Justice Department.
- Protect the independence of inspectors general and require documentation of cause before an IG may be removed.
- Protect whistleblowers to ensure federal employees can lawfully disclose abuses of power.
- Strengthen the Hatch Act, the law limiting certain political activities of federal employees, to provide stronger enforcement and penalties for violations.
- Take steps to prevent foreign interference in American elections.
“While Donald Trump is no longer president, the fault lines he exposed in the foundation of our democracy remain — ready for a future unethical president to exploit. These weaknesses continue to erode the American people’s trust in our democratic institutions and the norms that are essential to a functioning democracy,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-28), the lead sponsor of the legislation. “As Congress pursues its mission to strengthen and protect our democracy for future generations, these reforms will help ensure that we can keep our cherished republic.”