Press Releases

150+ Groups Send Open Letter Urging Congress to Pass Protecting Our Democracy Act

SEPTEMBER 22, 2021

Anushka Sarkar, [email protected]

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, more than 150 groups published an open letter urging Congress to pass the Protecting Our Democracy Act, a crucial bill aimed at preventing future presidential abuses of power, restoring checks and balances, and protecting elections from foreign interference.

Bloomberg Exclusive: “Bipartisan Groups Urge Congress to Curb Executive Branch Power”

View letter and signers here

The bill, introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and more than 100 cosponsors, is part of a slate of important legislation before Congress aimed at strengthening and protecting our democracy.

“None of us know if future abuses of power will come from a Democrat or a Republican president, but we do know that Trump’s tenure exposed enormous gaps in existing safeguards. Trump himself could return to office, or a future president could build on his efforts to corrupt the highest office in our land. If we don’t act, the abuses we’ve already seen could look like child’s play,” said Sean Eldridge, President & Founder of Stand Up America. “If Republicans refuse to support the bill, Senate Democrats should reform the filibuster to pass it. President Biden and a Democratic Congress cannot squander the window they have right now to safeguard our democracy.”

“The Protecting Our Democracy Act isn’t about one president, one party, or even one moment in time. It’s about preserving the values, norms and institutions which form the foundation of our republic, and ensure our continued liberty,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). “That’s a mission that draws broad support from the American people, and I am thankful for the broad, nonpartisan backing of more than 150 organizations and their millions of members devoted to protecting our democracy.”

“Congress has been ceding authority to presidents of both parties for generations,” said Soren Dayton, Policy Advocate for Protect Democracy. “It is time for Congress to ensure that future presidents don’t have the tools to undermine our democratic institutions. We applaud Rep. Schiff and House co-sponsors for this landmark legislation to do just that.”

Quotes from other key partners of the effort:

“We desperately need better checks on the executive branch, and the Protecting Our Democracy Act will do just that, ensuring we have a government the public can trust,” said Liz Hempowicz, the Director of Public Policy at Project On Government Oversight. “Congress should prioritize this legislation and bring greater accountability to the federal government.”

“Now more than ever, it is critical that Congress take the necessary steps toward safeguarding our democracy against politicians who weaponize their positions to increase their power or enrich themselves at the expense of our democracy,” said Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “The Protecting Our Democracy Act would curb abuses of power by presidents of both parties, strengthen Congress’s ability to fulfill its constitutional role as a check on executive branch overreach, and secure our elections from foreign influence. In order to save our democracy from the critical weaknesses that threaten our institutions, Congress must pass the Protecting Our Democracy Act.”

“The Protecting Our Democracy Act is a critical suite of reforms to restore checks and balances and rein in abuses of executive power,” said Martha Kinsella, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. “The guardrails reinforced by the Protecting Our Democracy Act help ensure that the government is working in the American people’s best interest, from strengthening the emoluments clauses to regulating contacts between the White House and the Department of Justice to bolstering Congress’ ability to check emergency powers of the president. Several of these fixes align with the recommendations of the Brennan Center’s bipartisan National Task Force on Rule of Law & Democracy. Many provisions in the bill have had bipartisan support in Congress, and would codify executive branch practices to which presidential administrations of both parties had long adhered. We urge Congress to act swiftly to pass this important legislation.”

“The re-introduction of the Protect Our Democracy Act is an important step toward strengthening our democratic institutions,” said Kodiak Hill-Davis, Vice President of Government Affairs at the Niskanen Center. “By limiting executive power, enhancing our system of checks and balances, and protecting our elections, PODA offers a suite of necessary government reforms at a critical time.”

“No American is above the law, not even the President. But the abuses we witnessed during Donald Trump’s presidency made it very clear that Congress must strengthen the guardrails on the vast powers of our nation’s highest office,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause. “The former administration’s actions exposed and exploited a gulf between well-established norms of presidential power and the laws that govern. The Protecting Our Democracy Act will provide greater checks and balances to the powers of the presidency while creating new mechanisms for transparency and accountability. The American people expect and deserve accountability from their president. The Protecting Our Democracy Act has now been introduced during the administrations of both major parties and will ensure that every president is accountable for their actions.”

“The Protecting Our Democracy Act is the blueprint to restore a genuine basis for public trust in our government. Having received support from both parties in the past, the whistleblower protection provisions specifically provide a desperately needed upgrade for federal employees, the only major group in the labor force where whistleblowers do not have the right for a day in court to seek justice from a jury,” said Tom Devine, Government Accountability Project’s Legal Director. “Patching these critical weaknesses will ensure that ethical employees can report fraud, waste, and abuses they discover no matter which party or administration holds power. Democracy, like whistleblowing, is a nonpartisan issue, and we urge Congress to pass this legislation quickly and unanimously.”

“Nearly a half century after the Watergate scandal, and just a few years after the scandals of the Trump administration, Congress is finally grappling with reining in the abuses of excessive presidential power with the Protecting Our Democracy Act,” said Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president of Public Citizen. “This measure would strengthen Congress’ power of the purse, check the ability of the president to issue pardons, enrich themselves with emoluments, institute whistleblower and inspector general protections, and much more. This is sorely needed legislation to rebalance power and fix our democracy.”

To reach a spokesperson, please contact Anushka Sarkar at [email protected]

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About Stand Up America
Stand Up America is a progressive advocacy organization with over two million community members across the country. Focused on grassroots advocacy to stand up to corruption and voter suppression and build a more representative democracy, Stand Up America has driven over 1.6 million calls to lawmakers, registered tens of thousands of voters, mobilized thousands of protestors, and contacted tens of millions of voters.

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