Why the Protecting Our Democracy Act is so important

By Bryant Holloway, Program Associate

The Protecting Our Democracy Act (PODA) is a comprehensive reform bill which would protect against abuses of power by the president, strengthen congressional oversight of the Executive Branch, improve accountability, limit the ability to use the office of the president for self-enrichment, and reassert Congress’ “power of the purse.” Renew America Movement is proud to support PODA.

Many of the provisions found in PODA were inspired by the abuses of power seen in recent years. Throughout our country’s history, we have witnessed many abuses of presidential power, everything from having foreign contacts in presidential campaigns, to violations of the Hatch Act, to trying to overturn an election. 

With Trump out of office, some may wonder, why pass PODA now? The answer is that presidential abuse of power is not a partisan issue, but a human issue. Any president from any political party is capable of acting in corrupt, self-serving ways against the country’s interests.

Supporting PODA is vital not only because corruption should be stamped out but also because a corrupt president represents grave risks to the country. Corrupt, inappropriate, or unseemly acts open presidents up to distractions, mismanagement, blackmail, can threaten our democracy, and can give enemies or foreign governments easy pressure points on which to press to get a desired outcome. Simply, presidential abuse of power can not only lead to our country and its interests being sold out for shady, under-the-table deals, but can also lead to the flouting and breaking of the law. 

For example, a foreign government wanting the United States to stop talking about its poor human rights record may invest in the president’s business with the implicit understanding that it is in the president’s personal interests to stop the criticism of the foreign government. If the president accepts such an investment and folds to the implicit or explicit demands of a foreign government, then the president has officially sold out their own country to line their own pockets. 

PODA would not only stop such a scenario from taking place through its strengthening of the Emoluments Clause, but it would also prohibit self-pardons for presidents, improve protections for whistleblowers, and so much more. 

Presidential abuse of power isn’t the only issue addressed in PODA. If passed, PODA would reestablish Congress’ oversight powers and authorities. Under PODA, Congress would have the ability to better enforce congressional subpoenas, it would be able to reassert its “power of the purse,” and so much more.

The powers and authority given back to Congress through PODA would do much to ensure the Executive Branch and the president are reined in and unable to exercise power outside the scope of their office.

Our country is not meant to serve or enrich one person or one family. Without PODA, our country is at risk of the next president coming into office and putting our country’s interests at risk in favor of their own personal interests and our Congress not being able to do anything about it.

PODA needs to be passed to prevent presidents, both Democratic and Republican, from abusing their power. Whether that abuse of power seeks to enrich the presidents or protect themselves, their family, and friends from criminal prosecution, or whatever the form of corruption, it’s time to put an end to it. At the Renew America Movement, we believe no one is above the law, not even presidents.

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