WASHINGTON – House Democrats unveiled Friday the details of ambitious legislation devised to lower barriers to the ballot box, tighten ethics and lobbying restrictions and, in a swipe at President Donald Trump, require presidents and candidates for the nation’s highest offices to release their tax returns.
Singling out Trump and his administration, Democrats said they were making good on promises to voters across the country who vaulted them into the majority with demands to clean up corruption and influence-peddling in Republican-controlled Washington.
“Over the last two years, President Trump set the tone from the top of this administration that behaving ethically and complying with the law is optional,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. “Ladies and gentlemen, I have stopped by here to simply say we are better than that.”
Little if any of the bill, named H.R. 1 to underscore its primacy, is likely to become law; in its sprawl and ambition, the measure is less a legislative vehicle than a political platform for Democrats heading into the 2020 presidential cycle.
“The American people will know that this is an option that the House has given the Senate of the United States and president of the United States to take action in support of the American people,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a news conference detailing the anti-corruption bill.
But crosswinds surrounding the rollout showed how hard it will be for Democrats to get traction in Trump’s Washington. The event was at least partly overshadowed by the impasse over Trump’s demand for $5 billion to fund a wall along the southwestern border. And the stalemate served as an ominous sign for any hope that the newly empowered Democrats, the GOP-controlled Senate and Trump can find areas of compromise in the next two years.
Democratic leaders view the voting and ethics measure — named the For the People Act — as the opening salvo in a two-year campaign to either make law or drive a wedge between Trump and the voters who supported him.