Let's make a deal to roll back executive power

Just as Congress did post-Watergate, many Democrats are pushing reforms tailored to Trump-specific abuses of power. The Protecting Our Democracy Act, unveiled in September, attracted little attention from Republicans given the package’s partisan nature. But with some time and space from the Trump administration, one can imagine, however, one would hope Republicans might be willing to take some aspects of the bill under consideration. This wide-ranging set of reforms not only addresses matters related to national emergencies and spending but also protections for inspectors general and federal whistleblowers that may become more enticing to Republicans during a Biden administration.

Eventually, both parties should be willing to debate these and other Trump-specific reforms, such as increasing the penalties for violating the Hatch Act and anti-nepotism laws, enforcing congressional subpoenas, clarifying and strengthening the Emoluments Clause, requiring presidential candidates to release tax returns, and limiting the president’s ability to appoint “acting” officials. But, beginning with weighty matters such as war powers, national emergencies, and spending could prove more beneficial in the long term.

And the time for Republicans to start contemplating executive reforms is now.