GOP blocks Dem effort to request Trump tax returns
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Democrats tried but failed Monday to force a House floor vote to push a key committee to request copies of President Trump’s tax returns.

It was the fourth time in as many weeks that Democrats sought to force the vote.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) attempted to offer a resolution and trigger a House floor vote, but was cut off by the Republican presiding over the House. 

Democrats plan to keep forcing debate on Trump’s tax returns every week until Tax Day on April 18.

They’re hoping to put pressure on the Republicans who have said Trump’s tax returns should be released, most of whom have declined to sign on to Democratic efforts pushing for the documents.

Many represent districts expected to be competitive in next year’s midterm elections, including Reps. Steve Knight (R-Calif.), Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) and David Young (R-Iowa).

Democrats have offered similar resolution three other times in the last four weeks, which all resulted in procedural votes.

The resolutions would instruct the House to request Trump’s tax returns from the last decade so that the House Ways and Means Committee, which has oversight of the Internal Revenue Service, could review them in a closed session.

The chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee, Senate Finance Committee and Joint Committee on Taxation have the power to request individual tax return information from the Treasury Department.

Three other Democrats in recent weeks offered similar resolutions as “privileged,” which would require the House to act within two legislative days.

The presiding officer in the House at those times ruled that the measure didn’t qualify as “privileged” by affecting the chamber’s dignity and integrity. Democrats demanded roll call votes to appeal those rulings.

Two Republicans who have called for the release of Trump's tax returns have broken with the party line on the three previous votes. Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) has voted "present," while Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) voted with Democrats in support of the resolutions.

But on Monday, Rep. Steve WomackStephen (Steve) Allen WomackGOP rep sounds off on Republican deficit plan during budget markup House GOP 2019 budget calls for deep Medicare, Medicaid spending cuts House panel to mark up 2019 budget MORE (R-Ark.), who was presiding over the chamber, took a different approach to block the measure. He declared the House would not at that time determine whether the resolution met the requirements to be "privileged" and ruled that Polis was no longer recognized to speak.

Womack then ordered the House to resume voting on an unrelated noncontroversial bill regarding the Department of Homeland Security.

Polis's resolution came hours after FBI Director James Comey confirmed in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that his agency is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 campaign.

The resolution offered by Polis cites media reports of Trump advisers allegedly under federal investigation for their ties to Russia and argues shedding light on Trump’s finances would offer insight into any possible connections.

“Disclosure of the President’s tax returns is important towards investigating Russian influence in the 2016 election, understanding the President’s financial ties to the Russian Federation and Russian citizens, including debts owed and whether he shares any partnership interests, equity interests, joint ventures or licensing agreements with Russia or Russian nationals, formally or informally associated with Vladimir Putin,” the resolution states. 

“The American people have the right to know whether or not their President is operating under conflicts of interest related to international affairs, tax reform, government contracts, or otherwise.”

Democrats have also tried offering amendments twice in the Ways and Means Committee to request Trump’s tax returns. 

In addition, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) introduced a “resolution of inquiry” earlier this month to direct the Treasury Department to provide the House with Trump’s tax returns and whether the president has debt held by foreign government or investment in other countries. Such resolutions automatically trigger a House floor vote if they aren’t considered by a committee within 14 legislative days. 

Last week, a leaked copy of the first two pages of Trump’s 2005 tax returns were published by and revealed on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” The returns showed Trump had paid about $38 million in federal taxes that year after receiving more than $150 million in income. 

Trump broke with four decades of precedent and refused to release his tax returns during the presidential campaign, citing an ongoing IRS audit. The IRS has said, however, that individuals can still release their own tax information despite an audit.