WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic leaders in Congress are adding an anti-corruption plank to their midterm campaign agenda, with proposals to beef up ethics laws, protect voting rights and overhaul campaign finance.
They unveiled the new platform Monday in a pitch to voters as they try to wrestle control of Congress from Republicans this fall. From the Capitol steps, Democrats criticized President Donald Trump’s stewardship of his administration and outlined legislative proposals they said they would undertake if they become the majority in Congress.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said they’re giving Americans a “roadmap” for improving the democratic process.
So far Democrats have been focusing on economic issues as part of their “Better Deal” campaign agenda. But the pivot comes as they say polls show voter distrust of Washington, despite Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the minority leader, said Democrats want to make sure “the president’s cronies can’t sell access to the highest bidder.”
Schumer said they would close the “Cohen loophole,” referring to the payments several companies made to Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, for insight into the new president.
Republicans are defending their majority in the House and Senate this fall largely by drawing on the economic upswing and their accomplishments with the Trump administration. They loosely call it the “Great American Comeback,” and it includes passage of the GOP tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks and, in the Senate, confirmation of the president’s judicial nominees.
The Democrats’ proposals draw on new and existing ideas — among them, making it easier for Americans to register to vote and cast ballots; safeguarding election security to prevent interference; and requiring states to install citizen commissions to redraw the congressional maps after the 2020 census to do away with gerrymandered districts.
Pointing to various Trump officials who are under scrutiny for spending practices and other issues, the Democrats also proposed strengthening ethics laws to prevent conflicts of interest. And they revived calls for campaign finance reform, including the long-shot plan to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision and limit big-money influence in politics.
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