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Bipartisan Groups Urge Congress to Curb Executive Branch Power

157 organizations across the political spectrum sent a letter to Congress asking for passage of Protecting Our Democracy Act (PODA)

Dear Members of Congress:

The undersigned organizations, on behalf of the millions of Americans our groups collectively represent, write to urge you to support and pass the Protecting Our Democracy Act.

For decades, congressional authority has been undermined by the executive branch, diminishing the ability of Congress to fulfill its constitutional duties, to protect the rule of law, and to hold all presidents accountable for overreaches and abuses of power. The last time Congress passed significant reform to protect our democracy from abuses of executive power was after the Watergate scandal. The time has come for new guardrails to reassert Congress’ role as a coequal branch of government.

Today, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers have an interest in restoring the checks and balances entrusted to them in our Constitution. The Protecting Our Democracy Act would do just that by restoring the powers the Founders vested in the legislative branch to serve as a check on the executive without infringing upon the president’s constitutional powers. 

Among other reforms, this historic bill would:

  • Strengthen Congress’s ability to oversee the executive branch by fortifying congressional subpoena power by providing expedited consideration of subpoena enforcement by courts, so the executive branch cannot run out the clock on congressional oversight;
  • Ensure inspectors general are qualified and empowered to hold federal agencies accountable without fear of reprisal by requiring the president to have “good cause” for removing an inspector general and enhancing reporting requirements when there is a vacancy;
  • Ensure whistleblowers can continue shining light on corruption and abuses of power that betray the public trust by enhancing protections against retaliation, providing legal defenses for whistleblowers against civil and criminal liability, and allowing whistleblowers to have their day in court;  
  • Reinforce Congress’s constitutional powers over spending and the power of the purse by requiring the Office of Management and Budget to make public basic information about the management of federal funds, and reporting to Congress to ensure those funds are spent in accordance with the law;
  • Prevent political interference with the U.S. Department of Justice by putting a permanent, statutory requirement in place that will ensure transparency and accountability related to their communications with the White House;
  • Strengthen the Hatch Act to protect federal agencies from being used for political purposes and ensure senior political appointees are held accountable under the law the same way other federal employees are.  
  • Prevent abuse of the president’s pardon power by increasing transparency of the pardon process, prohibiting self-pardons by the president, and clarifying that pardons are “official acts” for the purposes of federal bribery statute;
  • Provide for enforcement of the domestic and foreign Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution, to prevent a president from profiting from payments by foreign or domestic governments; and
  • Secure our elections from foreign interference, by ensuring political campaigns are informed of the laws banning foreign interference and are prepared to comply and report any attempts of foreign interference.

In this perilous moment for our republic, we believe it should be a top priority for this Congress to repair our democracy, including ensuring that no future president is permitted to abuse the power of their office.

If enacted, the Protecting Our Democracy Act would protect against future presidential abuses of power, restore the integrity of our democratic institutions, and ensure transparency from the chief executive. 

Given the urgency of this crisis and for these reasons, we call on you to swiftly pass this critical legislation.

Sincerely,

20/20 Vision

Academics Stand Against Poverty

Accountability Lab

Affiliation of Christian Engineers

American Oversight

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)

Animals Are Sentient Beings, Inc.

Arab American Institute (AAI)

Asian Law Alliance

Asian Pacific American Labor alliance, AFL-CIO

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action

Beyond Pesticides

Blacks in Law Enforcement of America

Blue Wave Postcard Movement

Brave New Films

Brennan Center for Justice

Campaign Legal Center

Center for American Progress

Center for Common Ground

Center for International Environmental Law

Center for International Policy

Center for Media and Democracy

Center for Progressive Reform

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

Clean Elections Texas

Coalition of Labor Union Women, AFL-CIO

Columbia Legal Services

Common Cause

Communications Workers of America

Community Research

Community Science Institute

Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety

Constitutional Alliance

Consumer Action

Corruption kills

Council for a Livable World

CovertAction Magazine

Demand Progress

DemCast USA

Democracy 21

Democracy Fund Voice

Democracy Matters

Demos

Disaster Accountability Project

Eco-Justice Collaborative

End Citizens United//Let America Vote Action Fund

Equal Rights Advocates

Essential Information

Faith in Public Life

Fix Democracy First

Fix the Court

Food & Water Watch

Franciscan Action Network

Geos Institute

Global Integrity

Government Accountability Project

Government Information Watch

Green Delaware

Greenpeace USA

Hanford Challenge

Heart of America NW

Hip Hop Caucus

Indivisible

Information Trust

Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, Georgetown Law

International Association of Whistleblowers

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement

Iowa Institute for Public Accountability

Keep Our Republic

Kentucky Environmental Foundation

Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.

League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

League of Women Voters of the United States

Mainers for Accountable Leadership

Michiganders for Fair and Transparent Elections

Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action

MoneyOutVA

Mormon Women for Ethical Government

MoveOn

Muslim American Law Enforcement Association (MALEA)

National Center for Health Research

National Council for Occupational Safety and Health

National Education Association

National Employment Law Project

National Organization for Women

National Security Counselors

National Voter Corps

National Whistleblower Center/Whistleblower Network News

National Workrights Institute

Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility of United Church of Christ

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

New American Leaders Action Fund

New Moral Majority

Niskanen Center

No More Guantanamos

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project

Open The Government

Our Bodies Ourselves

Pax Christi USA

People For the American Way

People’s Parity Project

PRESS4WORD2020

Professional Managers Association

Project Blueprint

Project On Government Oversight (POGO)

Protect All Children’s Environment

Protect Democracy

Public Citizen

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

Public Justice Center

Republicans for the Rule of Law

Rock the Vote

RootsAction.org

S.T.O.P. – The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project

Secure Elections Network

Senior Executives Association

SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change

Sierra Club

SocioEnergetics Foundation

Sojourners

Stand Up America

Stand Up Republic

Strategies for Justice, BWMP LLC

Sustainable Energy & Economy Network

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

The Digital Democracy Project

The Ecotopian Society

The National Air Disaster Foundation

The National Vote

The Press Freedom Defense Fund of First Look Institute

The Rutherford Institute

The Shalom Center

The Signals Network

The Workers Circle

Transparency International — U.S. Office

Truckers Justice Center

Tully Center for Free Speech

Un-PAC

Union of Concerned Scientists

Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice

UNITED SIKHS

Voices for Progress

VoteVets

Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs

Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)

WESPAC Foundation, Inc.

Whistleblowers of America

Win Without War

Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND)

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom US

Workplace Fairness

Worksafe

X-Lab