In an echo of actions they took in 2007, the last time they assumed House control, Democrats plan to use a package of rules governing the chamber prepared by Mr. McGovern to take unilateral steps that they say will tighten ethical standards, including increased funding for the Office of Congressional Ethics and, in a nod to an ongoing ethics scandal roiling Republicans, a ban on House members sitting on corporate boards.
Together, Ms. Pelosi said, putting those efforts first would “caffeinate” the Democrats’ agenda, even if Republicans in the Senate do not take up the legislation.
“When people know the priority that we are giving to the integrity and government piece, it increases the confidence they have that we can do what we said,” Ms. Pelosi said.
Chief among the legislation’s provisions would be a measure by Representative Terri Sewell of Alabama that would amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to comply with a 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder that gutted the bill’s key enforcement provision. In issuing its 5-4 decision, the court urged Congress to replace the scheme under which the federal government had overseen changes to election laws in states with a history of voting rights abuses.
Republicans in control of Congress at the time took a pass, and Democrats believe Ms. Sewell’s bill could help counteract a new wave of election laws across the South that have limited access to the polls.
Another measure, written by Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, would require political nonprofit 501(c)(4)s to disclose the identity of most of their donors for the first time. Democrats would like to go further, passing a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision and restore to Congress the power to limit money in politics, but those political prospects appear slim.
Yet another provision, written by Representative Zoe Lofgren of California, would require all states to establish independent commissions to draw congressional districts. Several states already employ such bodies, but gerrymandering of political boundaries is the norm in most states, allowing the party in control of state government to create the most favorable jurisdictions for its congressional elections every decade, distorting the will of voters, Democrats argue.
Also included are a series of bills tightening restrictions on federal lobbyists, beefing up the executive branch’s Office of Government Ethics, which clashed with Mr. Trump early in his presidency, and requiring the president and vice president to divest any business holdings to prevent a possible conflict of interest.