GOP chairmen reject Senate Dems' request on Trump's tax returns

GOP chairmen reject Senate Dems' request on Trump's tax returns
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Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee urged the panel's Republican chairman to request President Trump's tax returns from the Treasury Department, but he rejected the request.

The Democratic senators asked Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin HatchLive coverage: Senate GOP unveils its ObamaCare repeal bill Grassley doesn't see how Judiciary 'can avoid' obstruction probe Ryan calls for tax reform to be permanent MORE (R-Utah) on Wednesday to seek the returns "given the critical issues raised by the President’s business entanglements."

But Hatch and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin BradyOvernight Cybersecurity: Trump tweetstorm on Russia probe | White House reportedly pushing to weaken sanctions bill | Podesta to testify before House Intel Senate expected to pass Russia sanctions bill for a second time White House pressuring House GOP to weaken Russia sanctions bill: report MORE (R-Texas) responded in their own letter, saying "we strongly consider the approach you suggest to be an abuse of the tax-writing committees statutory authority."

"The American people have made it clear that they want Washington to fix our broken tax code — not to target the tax returns of individual citizens," Hatch and Brady wrote.

The Senate Democrats' request came after the House on Monday rejected an attempt from Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) to force a floor vote on a resolution to request Trump's tax returns. The House Ways and Means Committee had previously voted against an amendment for the panel's chairman to make such a request.

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Under federal law, the chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee, Senate Finance Committee and Joint Committee on Taxation can request tax returns from Treasury that can then be reviewed in a closed meeting.

The Senate Democrats' letter noted the recent media reports about the Trump administration and campaign having close ties to Russia. The letter also cited reports of Trump's business entanglements "which may reach around the globe."

"These unprecedented conflicts of interest pose a threat to American national security and the integrity of the government of the United States," the senators wrote.

The senators urged Hatch to request the returns of both Trump and his businesses. They wanted the Finance Committee to vote to make the returns public if the panel found "ties or relations to foreign governments" during a review of the returns.

Democrats senators that signed the letter included Debbie StabenowDebbie StabenowNo certainty on cost-sharing payments to insurers Dems express concerns about Trump's proposed rural development cuts Trump, Clinton campaign aides launch their own bids MORE (Mich.), Ron WydenRon WydenCommerce secretary spoiled Treasury secretary’s secret wedding: report Dems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity Senate bill would repeal most ObamaCare taxes, delay Cadillac tax MORE (Ore.), Maria CantwellMaria CantwellDems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Dems urge Sessions to reject AT&T-Time Warner merger MORE (Wash.), Tom CarperTom CarperDems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity Overnight Energy: Lawmakers challenge Trump's proposed EPA cuts Overnight Energy: Tillerson maintains support for Paris deal despite Trump decision MORE (Del.), Ben CardinBen CardinDem senators urged Obama to take action on Russia before election Overnight Cybersecurity: Trump tweetstorm on Russia probe | White House reportedly pushing to weaken sanctions bill | Podesta to testify before House Intel Senate expected to pass Russia sanctions bill for a second time MORE (Md.), Michael BennetMichael BennetDems step up attacks on GOP ObamaCare bill Trump welcomes Gorsuch on first Supreme Court visit Why higher education is in need of regulatory relief MORE (Colo.) and Bob CaseyBob CaseyLive coverage: Senate Dems hold talkathon to protest GOP health plan Ryan Phillippe to visit Capitol Hill to advocate for military caregivers Dem senators seize on Senate press crackdown MORE (Pa.).

"The American people need to know that President Trump is looking out for the American people and frankly not his own business interest," Stabenow, who took the lead on the letter, said in a press conference Wednesday.

A leader of the upcoming Tax March in Washington praised the Democratic lawmakers' efforts.

“If President Trump continues to ignore the demands of the public to release his tax returns, and if the majority party in Congress continues to aid and abet him in this secrecy by striking down efforts to compel Trump to release his tax returns, the American people will rise up and speak with their feet on Tax Day as they march on Washington and across the country to demand transparency," said Anna Chu, a Tax March executive committee member and vice president for income security and education at the National Women’s Law Center.

But Hatch and Brady said that the Democrats' request was not in line with the legislative intent of the tax-code section that allows chairmen to request the returns. They also said there hasn't been "specific allegations of tax-related misconduct by federal officials or abuse of taxpayer rights" that would lead them to request the returns.

Additionally, the GOP chairmen said the request for Trump's tax returns is "a distraction from more pressing needs" such as overhauls to the healthcare systems and tax codes.

-updated at 7:03 p.m.