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Big Washington clean-up bill leads House Democrats’ list

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When the Democrats take over the U.S. House of Representatives in three weeks, their first order of business is expected to be a wide-ranging bill about political corruption, voter disenfranchisement and cleaning up campaign finance.

Aimed at sending a message, the legislation is unlikely to become law with Republicans still in control of the Senate and the White House. But it will offer guide posts to aggressive oversight to come later in 2019 of Donald Trump and his presidency.

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An outline of the bill, titled H.R. 1, shows it would require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns, which Trump has refused to do despite decades of precedent.

Members of Congress would be barred from serving on the boards of for-profit corporations under the bill. It would also overhaul the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, create a new ethical code for the U.S. Supreme Court and strengthen oversight of lobbyists and foreign agents.

The bill calls for automatic, early and online national voter registration, as well as an end to partisan gerrymandering of House voting districts, the practice of changing electoral district boundaries to favor a party.

Political groups would have to disclose their donors. The largely ineffective Federal Election Commission would be overhauled. Disclosure rules for digital political ads would be harmonized with rules for broadcast ads.

“H.R. 1 is about putting a positive set of reforms out there to fix some of the systemic problems we have,” said Democratic Representative John Sarbanes, who is leading the effort.

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“We want to make a declaration early that we bring a different cultural standard,” he told Reuters.

The bill is expected to be introduced soon after the 2019-20 Congress convenes on Jan. 3, with hearings to follow. House committees will prepare separate segments of the bill for a House floor vote, due within the first 100 days of 2019.

U.S. voters ended Republican control of the 435-member House in congressional elections on Nov. 6 and handed it to Democrats. Republicans expanded their majority hold on the 100-seat Senate.

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Winning control of investigative committees, House Democrats are preparing to probe Trump’s businesses, his taxes and allegations of corruption among top administration officials.

House committees involved in crafting H.R. 1 are expected to examine oversight themes in the early weeks of 2019.

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While the bill addresses long-standing problems in Washington, House Democrats say that Trump’s presidency has increased the need to strengthen democratic institutions.

Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Frances Kerry


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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‘He wants me to do it’: Giuliani announces Trump has asked him to brief DOJ and GOP on results of his Ukraine trip

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Rudy Giuliani, just hours after Congress published proposed Articles to impeach his boss, announced President Donald Trump has asked him to brief the Dept. of Justice and Republican Senators on the results of his trip to Ukraine. Giuliani, who allegedly serves as Trump's personal attorney but claims he is not being paid to work in that capacity, insists he is taking orders directly from Trump.

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2019 was nearly, but not quite, the worst year for the Arctic

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The Arctic has experienced its second warmest year since 1900, according to a report published Tuesday, raising fears over low summer sea ice and rising sea levels.

The North Pole has been warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet since the 1990s, a phenomenon climatologists call Arctic amplification, and the past six years have been the region's warmest ever.

The average temperature in the 12 months to September was 1.9 degrees Celsius higher than the 1981-2010 average, according to the Arctic Report Card of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA).

The end-of-summer sea ice cover measured that month was the second lowest in the 41-year satellite record, tied with 2007 and 2016, the annual report said.

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Jim Jordan was a big fan of the impeachment process before it was directed at Trump: reporter for Ohio news outlet

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GOP Rep. Jim Jordan (OH) is one of President Trump's most vocal defenders when it comes to the Democrats' impeachment efforts, but according to a news outlet in his home state, he's been an enthusiastic supporter of the impeachment process in the past.

Twice in recent years, Jordan "vigorously sought to impeach a pair of public officials whom he accused of offenses that seem minor in comparison to the accusations against Trump," Cleveland.com's Sabrina Eaton writes.

As Eaton points out, during those times, Jordan described impeachment as an “indispensable power that Congress has for holding government officials accountable.”

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