Pascrell Heralds Protecting Our Democracy Act
Landmark anti-corruption package includes Pascrell proposal to stop malfeasance by public servants as seen in Trump regime
Washington, DC, December 9, 2021
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today hailed the House’s consideration of the Protecting Our Democracy Act (H.R.5314), landmark legislation to strengthen American democracy now under sustained attack by Donald Trump and elected Republicans in Congress and across the United States. Included in the package is a key amendment to combat political corruption authored by Pascrell and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL-05). Approved by a vote of , the measure strengthens the Hatch Act, and the ability to enforce that 1939 law limiting certain political activities of federal employees.
“Our government is not a piggy bank to be pilfered and pillaged by public servants. Trump appointees abused public offices to line their pockets and corruptly retain power. The crime spree by Trump and his stooges is the worst corruption ever in our government,” said Rep. Pascrell. “You fix a leaky roof in the sun. Not in a storm. With dark clouds ahead, we must protect our democracy.”
"In the previous administration, we saw government employees like Kellyanne Conway repeatedly and flagrantly misuse their government positions for politics as part of an anti-democratic effort to co-opt the powers of government to keep an incumbent in office," said Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) President Noah Bookbinder. "The Kellyanne Conway Political CRIMES Act takes important steps to rebuild and rearm the Hatch Act, our government's tool to fight these abuses."
The amendment offered by Rep. Pascrell is based on his Political Corruption Review of Infractions for Misconduct by Executive Servants (CRIMES) Act (H.R. 5120), as well as a recent Office of Special Counsel Office (OSC) report that found a torrent of Hatch Act crimes by at least 13 former officials in the Trump regime. The Political CRIMES Act seeks to strengthen the Hatch Act would better stop the government officials from abusing their official positions for personal and political gain that was rampant in the Trump regime. The Political CRIMES Act is sponsored in the House by Pascrell and in the Senate by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
The Pascrell/Quigley amendment to H.R. 5314 specifically:
The breadth and volume of Hatch Act violations and alleged violations by top officials in the Trump regime has been well documented by reports from Senator Warren’s office and CREW. A roundup of these violations is available here.
A section-by-section breakdown of the Pascrell and Warren Political CRIMES Act as introduced is available here.
During the Trump administration, Rep. Pascrell was a leading member of Congress highlighting Hatch Act violations by Kellyanne Conway, Trump family members, and other top officials. On Election Day 2020, Pascrell sent an emergency plea to the U.S. Special Counsel demanding a federal probe of plans by the Trump regime to use the White House and Old Executive Office Building as a campaign day command center and Election Day war room.
The text of Rep. Pascrell’s prepared floor statement in favor of the Protecting Our Democracy Act is below.
Rep. Pascrell Floor Remarks in Favor of the Political Accountability Act (as prepared)
Madam Speaker, our government is not a piggy bank to be pilfered and pillaged by public servants. Trump appointees abused their public office to line their pockets and corruptly retain power. The crime spree by Trump and his stooges is the worst corruption ever in our government.
According to a recent Office of Special Counsel report, they made a mockery of the law. They exploited Hatch Act gaps or ignored it altogether.
My amendment in the en bloc is based on the Political CRIMES Act. I thank Congressman Mike Quigley and Senator Elizabeth Warren for their leadership. The amendment enhances the underlying provisions and gives the Hatch Act sharper teeth.
The amendment ensures political appointees cannot get away with crimes. It requires disclosure of investigations. It cracks down on subpoena evaders. It allows the Special Counsel to continue investigations after government service concludes. Offenders like Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Miller, and those masquerading as public servants like Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, violated the Hatch Act without major consequence. No longer!
The amendment also expands the fines for violations. For the first time, repeat violators can be held criminally liable. This is real accountability!
Most important, it extends the law to the President and Vice President when conducting official duties on federal property.
You fix a leaky roof in the sun. Not in a storm. With dark clouds ahead, we must protect our democracy.
I am glad my amendment was included, and for the Presidential tax return transparency provisions in the bill. Trump and his enablers refused to follow the law. For 981 days – longer than the siege of Leningrad – our tax return request was illegally blocked by a tag-team of the Trump Department of Justice and a Trump-appointed judge.
Now that the Biden administration will comply with the law, the returns should be sent to Congress.
I thank Chair Carolyn Maloney and the staff on the Committee on Oversight and Reform for their hard work on this bill and Chair Adam Schiff for his work to champion these issues.
I urge passage of my amendment and passage of the underlying bill. Thank you and I yield back.