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U.S. House Democrats unveil democracy protection package aimed at Trump

FILE PHOTO: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 18, 2020. REUTERS/Al Drago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats in the U.S. Congress on Wednesday unveiled a new package of democratic reforms aimed at President Donald Trump, saying it would curb future presidential abuse and protect U.S. elections against foreign interference.

Less than six weeks before the Nov. 3 election, top Democrats in the House of Representatives said they expect to consider the “Protecting Our Democracy Act” next year, when they hope to have Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in the White House and a Democratic majority controlling the Senate.

“I think these reforms will have bipartisan support next year,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told a news conference, saying that the current Republican-controlled Senate led by Senator Mitch McConnell would not be expected to consider such a measure.

The legislation surfaced after nearly four years of a Trump presidency that Democrats claim has eroded the U.S. democratic system of checks and balances by placing his personal and political interests above the national interest, with help from Senate Republicans.

“(The Founders) probably could not envision a president who would kick over the guardrails and that the Senate of the United States would be complicit,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

House Democrats impeached Trump in 2019, only to see him acquitted by Senate Republicans early this year. Republicans contend that Democrats have sought to undermine Trump since before he entered office in 2017.

The new measure would suspend the statute of limitations for federal crimes committed by a sitting president or vice president, codify the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause, tighten oversight of pardons, strengthen congressional subpoena powers and enhance protections for whistleblowers and inspectors general.

It would also require political committees to report foreign contacts and expands the federal prohibition against foreign campaign contributions to include information sought or obtained for political advantage.

Reporting by David Morgan; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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