House Dems offer bill to require presidents to release tax returns

A pair of House Democrats on Wednesday offered legislation to require presidents and presidential candidates to release their tax returns as Democrats are prioritizing obtaining President TrumpDonald John TrumpPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump FBI identifies Pensacola shooter as Saudi Royal Saudi Air Force second lieutenant Trump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax MORE's tax returns in the new Congress.

The legislation, offered by Reps. Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooPowerful House panel to hold 'Medicare for All' hearing next week Democrats request info on Google-Ascension partnership Democrats demand FCC act over leak of phone location data MORE (D-Calif.) and Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellOn The Money: GDP expanded 2.1 percent in third quarter | Dems want answers on Japan trade deals | Tax, loan documents for Trump Tower reportedly show inconsistencies Democrats demand answers on Trump trade deals with Japan More than 100 Democrats sign letter calling for Stephen Miller to resign MORE (D-N.J.), would require sitting presidents and vice presidents, and major-party nominees for those offices, to make public their 10 most recent federal income tax returns. The bill is aimed at Trump, the first president in decades not to release his tax returns.

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“Being able to scrutinize the tax returns of a man or woman seeking to occupy the most powerful position on earth is a low bar, and one that candidates long abided by until 2016," Pascrell said in a news release. "Americans have a right to know if their President is a crook. Imposing this requirement will ensure that transparency and ethical behavior are minimum requirements for any presidential candidate.”

The provisions in Pascrell and Eshoo's bill are also included in a wide-ranging ethics bill House Democrats introduced last week known as H.R. 1. Democrats are expected to hold hearings on that bill in the coming weeks before bringing it to a vote on the House floor.

Eshoo and Pascrell have both been pushing for congressional action on Trump's tax returns since the 2016 presidential race, when Eshoo released her first piece of legislation on the matter.

Pascrell has been a leader of Democrats' efforts to have Congress request Trump's tax returns from the Treasury Department — an action that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealOvernight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 Democrats could introduce articles of impeachment next week House to vote next week on sweeping bill to lower drug prices MORE (D-Mass.) is expected to take later this year.

“Tax returns contain vital information for voters and the public, including whether an individual has paid any taxes; whether they made charitable donations; and whether they took advantage of tax loopholes or offshore tax shelters," Eshoo said.

Trump has said that he won't release his tax returns while he is under audit. But the IRS has said audits don't prevent people from disclosing their own tax information.