Dems offer House resolution to force Trump's tax returns

Dems offer House resolution to force Trump's tax returns
© Greg Nash

On Monday, for the fifth consecutive week, Democrats offered a resolution on the House floor regarding President Trump’s tax returns.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) brought up the measure, which would direct the House to request 15 years worth of Trump’s tax returns so that Congress can consider them in a review of whether the president has violated the “Emoluments Clause” of the U.S. Constitution. The clause bars government officials from receiving gifts or payments from foreign leaders.

Lofgren is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and her resolution stated that Trump’s tax returns “are likely to be essential as members of the Judiciary Committee work to research potential violations of the Emoluments Clause.”

The resolution was somewhat different from past Democratic actions on Trump’s tax returns, which had directed the House to request Trump’s tax returns so that the House Ways and Means Committee could review them in a closed session.

No vote was taken on Lofgren’s measure on Monday evening. Rep. Steve WomackStephen (Steve) Allen WomackLawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Rubio asks White House to delay B Pentagon contract over Amazon concerns   New CBO report fuels fight over minimum wage MORE (R-Ark.), who was presiding over the House floor, said that a ruling on whether the resolution is “privileged” would be made at another point in time.

The House has to act on privileged resolutions within two legislative days.

In the past, the Democrats’ resolutions on Trump’s tax returns have been ruled to not be privileged. The House then took votes on whether to table appeals of those rulings. Only one Republican lawmaker, Walter Jones (N.C.), has joined the Democrats on these procedural votes, while Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.). has voted “present.”

Trump has said that he won’t release his tax returns because the IRS is auditing him. However, the IRS has said that audits don’t prevent people from disclosing their own tax information.

Democrats have repeatedly brought up Trump’s undisclosed tax returns in an effort to force Republicans to take difficult votes. They plan to offer resolutions on the House floor on a weekly basis until Tax Day on April 18.

In addition to pushing for House floor votes, Democrats have also been bringing up the issue of Trump’s tax returns in various committees.

The Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday will consider a “resolution of inquiry” from Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) that directs Treasury to provide the House with Trump’s tax returns. These types of resolutions can receive a floor vote if they are not acted on in committee within 14 legislative days of introduction.

Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee have already voted to block Democratic amendments on Trump’s tax returns twice during committee markups.

Last week, House Oversight Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) argued during a hearing that the panel should bring up the Presidential Tax Transparency Act. That bill would require Trump and future presidents and presidential candidates to release their tax returns.