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Democrats vow that GOP will take more Trump votes

Congressional Democrats have been forcing Republicans to cast tough votes on President Trump — and they’re just getting started.

In recent days, Democrats have triggered votes related to Trump’s tax returns, business relationships and ties to Russia in an effort to cast Republicans as complicit in the secrecy surrounding Trump’s finances.

{mosads}None of the votes succeeded, but Democrats remain undeterred as they seek to fire up their liberal base ahead of next year’s midterm elections.

“I think the Democrats should push hard on this issue and push hard whenever they get a chance,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon.

Bannon, who writes for the Hill’s Contributors blog, noted that there are about two dozen House Republicans whose districts Democrat Hillary Clinton won in the presidential election.

“The more times Democrats can get Republican House members on [the] record of supporting Trump — the more the merrier,” he said.

On Monday, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) tried to force a vote on a resolution requesting 10 years of Trump’s tax returns so that they could be reviewed in a closed-door meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Pascrell’s gambit — which came after the committee rejected an amendment about Trump’s tax returns earlier this month — failed in a procedural party-line vote.

The following day, the House Judiciary Committee rejected a resolution from Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) to request documents from Attorney General Jeff Sessions about Trump’s potential business conflicts and Russia ties.

Nadler had forced a vote by offering it as a “resolution of inquiry” that would have triggered a House floor vote if the committee didn’t act.

“We forced the Republicans to vote,” Nadler said of the Judiciary Committee markup. “And I think we will keep the pressure on.”

Nadler told The Hill he’s hopeful that Democrats will offer more resolutions of inquiry that will be brought up in other committees. If more Republicans are forced to take votes, it will increase the pressure on them to hold a proper investigation on issues such as Trump’s business in Russia, he said.

Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a member of the Ways and Means panel, vowed that party leaders would use the issue of Trump’s tax returns as a cudgel against Republicans.

“This is not a one-off or two-off. We will persistently and consistently force votes in committee or … on the floor — weekly, whenever we [can]. …  The silence [from Republicans] is deafening,” Crowley said Tuesday. “That will not stand with our caucus.”

Senate Democrats are adopting similar tactics.

On Wednesday, a group of Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee asked Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to request copies of Trump’s tax returns from the Treasury Department. Hatch rejected the request.

It remains to be seen whether focusing on Trump’s finances will sway voters; Democrats raised the same issues in the presidential campaign, and Clinton still lost.

Party strategists also predict that the economy is likely to be the main issue in the midterm elections.

But those same strategists also suggested that the tax return issue could help Democrats secure House seats in winnable districts.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) on Tuesday sent out “key vote” alerts highlighting specific Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee who voted against Nadler’s resolution.

“Vulnerable House Republicans voted this week to shield President Trump from Congressional scrutiny of his ties to Russia and to keep his taxes secret — and this is just over the course of one week,” said DCCC spokesman Tyler Law. “Our Republican targets will be forced repeatedly to take votes in support of Trump’s deeply unpopular agenda, which is a situation they never had to face last cycle.”

For now, GOP lawmakers are siding against Democrats in the politically charged votes; some of the handful of GOP lawmakers who have called for Trump to release his tax returns voted to block the Democratic resolution. Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), who has urged Trump to release his returns, voted present.

Trump seems unlikely to release his returns on his own. He has said he won’t release them until the IRS finishes auditing him, though the IRS has said that audits don’t prevent taxpayers from disclosing their own information.

Shortly before his inauguration, Trump laid out a plan to keep ownership of his businesses but turn over the management of them to his adult children.

“The President has done everything necessary to make sure he is in full compliance and following the law to ensure there are no conflicts of interest,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said. 

Mike Lillis contributed

Tags Hillary Clinton Jeff Sessions Orrin Hatch

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