National Legal and Policy Center

Founded in 1991, the National Legal and Policy Center promotes ethics in public life through research, investigation, education and legal action. We recognize that the bigger the government, the more opportunities for corruption; and the more intervention in the economy, the more reason for special interests to seek influence. We believe that the best way to promote ethics is to reduce the size of government. We do not believe that ethics are advanced through more laws or "better guidelines," even as existing ones are ignored. We don't believe the problem is with too few laws, or with too much freedom, but with men and women. We believe the missing ingredients are character, morality and common sense.
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President Biden recently announced nominees for three inspector general roles, but several government agencies still lack an independent watchdog.

15 federal watchdog roles remain vacant, hindering government function

Inspectors general help make government function more efficiently and effectively, but more than a dozen of those independent watchdog offices lack permanent leadership.

President Biden announced last week his intent to nominate three people to fill some of the vacancies. One of the nominations is for inspector general of the Export-Import Bank, a position that has been vacant since June 27, 2014. At 2,664 days and counting, that is currently the longest-running vacancy for an IG role.

Some of these vacancies were created when former President Donald Trump fired or replaced six inspectors general in quick succession last year. Government ethics groups at the time said this unprecedented action undermined indepdendent federal oversight.

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Big Picture
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told Democrats that HR 1 includes "plenty you ought to be ashamed about."

Total and testy partisan standoff at Senate's first hearing on HR 1

Partisan passions erupted on Wednesday at the Senate's first-ever hearing on HR 1, which has rapidly transformed from the democracy reform movement's longshot wish list into one of the topflight fights in Congress.

The session magnified the virtually total disagreement between the bill's Democratic proponents and Republican opponents. Not a glimmer of potential compromise surfaced, even about the need to do anything to fix the system.

"We have an existential threat to democracy on our hands," Majority Leader Chuck Schumer declared. Minutes later, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell derided the measure as "a solution in search of a problem" because "states are not engaging in efforts to suppress voters, whatsoever."

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Government Ethics
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President Trump refused to take action against advisor Kellyanne Conway, despite her flagrant violations of the Hatch Act, writes Ahearn.

After four years of loophole abuse and flagrant disregard, the Hatch Act needs repair

Ahearn is policy director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, a nonpartisan group that works to expose ethical violations and corruption by federal officials and agencies.

This is part of a series advocating for parts of legislation soon to be proposed in the House, dubbed the Protecting Our Democracy Act, designed to improve democracy's checks and balances by curbing presidential power.

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Big Picture
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Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, flanked by fellow Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Jeff Merkley, introduced their version of the bill Wednesday.

Biden's call for filibuster change gives HR 1 advocates modest reason for hope

President Biden has thrown a lifeline toward HR 1, his party's comprehensive response to voter suppression and the American republic's other most serious ailments. But, while the legislation was launched in the Senate on Wednesday, Biden's new support for weakening the filibuster is not nearly enough to assure he'll get to sign the bill.

Opponents of legislation should be forced to verbalize their opposition and stage their dilatory protests in person on the Senate floor, Biden said Tuesday. That would push the filibuster closer to its original form and potentially weaken the Republican minority's resolve for blocking almost everything on the Democratic agenda.

But the president did not get behind ending the de facto requirement that 60 senators support legislation, or the idea of a carve-out so voting rights bills could pass with a simple majority. Without such changes, the GOP would seemingly still be able to devote its collective stamina to talking the fix-the-system package to death.

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