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 HatchWeek ahead: Senate panel to vote on Trump's FDA pick Chaffetz's campaign arm registers 2028 websites The Hill's 12:30 Report 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 BradyCongress, the time is now for tax reform to get our economy moving Mnuchin: Trump orders take aim at Dodd-Frank, tax regs Tax reform hearing appears to be delayed 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 StabenowMedicare’s coverage decisions need more input from physicians Members help package meals at Kraft Heinz charity event in DC Senate braces for fallout over Supreme Court fight MORE (Mich.), Ron WydenRon WydenState Dept. website highlights history of Trump's Mar-a-Lago Five fights for Trump’s first year Wyden pushing to mandate 'basic cybersecurity' for Senate MORE (Ore.), Maria CantwellMaria CantwellReport: GOP lawmakers selling access to top staffers Bipartisan group demands answers on United incident Cohn backs modern version of Glass-Steagall: report MORE (Wash.), Tom CarperTom CarperDems probe claims of religious bias in DHS 'trusted traveler' program Senate Dems want Trump to release ethics waivers, visitor logs Medicare’s coverage decisions need more input from physicians MORE (Del.), Ben CardinBen CardinLawmakers talk climate for Earth Day, Science March Live coverage: March for Science rally is underway Dems outraged over Spicer's Holocaust remarks MORE (Md.), Michael BennetMichael BennetDems knock Trump on Earth Day Dem pushed plan for both sides to admit to abusing Senate rules: report Senators aim to extend federal conservation fund MORE (Colo.) and Bob CaseyBob CaseyPennsylvania GOP rep announces bid for Casey's Senate seat We need to pass the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act to fight hate and bigotry At the table: The importance of advocating for ABLE 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.