Calling the Trump Administration one of the most “compromised and corrupt administrations in American history,” congressional Democrats on Monday unveiled the anti-corruption agenda they plan to carry into the 2018 midterm elections.
With President Donald Trump facing historically low approval ratings, Democrats from the House and Senate plan to use his promises to “drain the swamp” amid a growing list of accusations against members of his Cabinet and his associates.
“President Trump, when it comes to draining the swamp, has been a complete and utter disaster,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a press conference on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. “The swamp has never been more foul and more fetid than it is under this president.”
The Democrats’ proposal is the latest iteration of the “Better Deal” midterm platform launched last year to send a signal to middle- and working-class voters that Democrats would make policy decisions in their economic interest.
This plan, however, hones in on recent scandals that have hit the Trump Administration — from the ethical questions surrounding Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to accusations that Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen accepted money from organizations with business before the administration through a shell company.
Several current and former cabinet members have also been accused of unethical behavior while serving in the Trump Administration including Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, former Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and former Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin.
Democrats are also attempting to tie the corruption angle to Congress itself by linking it to tax legislation that Republicans passed last year, which they argued primarily benefits the wealthy and donors who backed Trump and the GOP.
Under their “Better Deal” agenda, Democrats say they want to strengthen the election system through creating automatic voter registration, restoring protection in states where the right to vote has been threatened, and establishing redistricting commissions; enacting tougher ethic laws on lobbying and conflicts of interest; and reforming campaign finance laws.
Democrats have won on an anti-corruption strategy in the past. The latest push builds off of a 2006 effort by Democrats to push an anti-corruption message ahead of a pivotal midterm election. That effort to accuse Republicans of languishing in a “culture of corruption” proved fruitful — on Election Day, over 70% of voters said that corruption was either extremely or very important to their vote for the House, according to CBS News.
Information on the campaign that was shared with TIME cites polling that shows voters believe they have little power in Washington compared to wealthy donors and lobbyists.
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