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Post Trump, U.S. Democrats offer bill to rein in presidential powers

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi discusses the formation of January 6 select committee during her weekly news conference in Washington

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. House of Representatives Democrats introduced legislation on Tuesday seeking to pull back powers from the presidency, part of an ongoing effort to rein in the White House in a rebuke to the administration of former Republican President Donald Trump.

House leaders said the "Protecting our Democracy Act" would restore the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches of government that was written into the Constitution.

Among other things, it would put new limits on the use of presidential pardons, prohibit self-pardons and strengthen measures to prevent foreign election interference or illegal campaign activity by White House officials.

The bill also would boost subpoena enforcement, protect inspectors general and watchdogs and strengthen oversight of emergency declarations.

As president, Trump fired a series of inspectors general - watchdogs charged with fighting corruption at federal agencies. To sidestep congressional control over government spending, he declared a national emergency at the border with Mexico to force the transfer of military funds to help build a wall there, a campaign promise.

"We have to codify this... 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," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a news conference.

Representative Adam Schiff, a lead sponsor, said Democratic President Joe Biden's White House had been consulted on the bill's contents. He said he hoped for a House vote this autumn.

The path forward was uncertain. Democrats hold only a slim House majority, and the Republican caucus stands firmly behind Trump, who is expected to run for re-election in 2024 and remains the party's most influential leader.

Republicans overwhelmingly opposed Trump's two impeachments - led by many of the Democrats who introduced the legislation - and rejected a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters.

Aides to House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Patricia ZengerleEditing by Bill Berkrot)

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