House Dems launch new effort to force vote on Trump tax returns

Greg Nash

House Democrats on Wednesday announced that they are turning to another tool in their quest to see President Trump’s tax returns.

Democrats are starting a “discharge petition” on a bill that would require Trump and future presidents and presidential nominees to disclose their returns. Bills can be brought to the House floor for a vote with discharge petitions if they are signed by a majority of House members.

Under the bill, offered by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), presidents would have to disclose their three most recent years of tax returns to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE). Presidential nominees would have to provide their three most recent years of tax returns to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

{mosads}If presidents or nominees fail to take those actions, the OGE and FEC would request the returns from the Treasury Department and make them publicly available.

The petition faces long odds in the House, where Democrats hold a minority of seats. So far, only two GOP lawmakers have cosponsored the bill: Reps. Mark Sanford (S.C.) and Justin Amash (Mich.). Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) has joined onto other Democratic efforts on Trump’s tax returns.

But Eshoo said in a news conference that she’s optimistic that more Republicans will support the effort.

“I think it’s going to grow because it’s meritorious,” she said. “I am hopeful that Republicans will see the light.”

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that tax returns don’t tell the public everything, but “they are a key that opens the door to so much information.” She said she’s particularly concerned about any information that may show links between Trump and Russia and China.

The last successful discharge petition occurred in 2015, when a bipartisan group of lawmakers used the tool to force a vote on a bill to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.

The petition on Eshoo’s bill is the latest of many efforts that Democrats have taken on Trump’s tax returns in the last several weeks, none of which has been successful. Democrats have been bringing up the matter to highlight the issue and to force Republicans to take tough votes.

In each of the last six weeks, Democrats have offered resolutions on the floor directing the House to request Trump’s tax returns. The House Ways and Means Committee has also taken several votes on the topic.

Lawmakers have also sent letters to Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), urging them to request Trump’s tax returns from the Treasury Department. Under federal tax law, the chairman of those committees can ask for tax returns so that they can be reviewed in a closed session.

Hatch and Brady have said that it would be an inappropriate use of their authority to request Trump’s tax returns.

Tags Justin Amash Kevin Brady Orrin Hatch
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