Mar 28, 2017
The House Ways and Means Committee is poised to vote on a resolution of inquiry Tuesday that would direct the Treasury Department to release President Donald Trump's taxes.
H.Res. 186, introduced earlier this month by Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), directs Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to hand over copies of Trump's returns from 2006 to 2015, as well as any information the department has on his foreign debts and investments and use of tax-avoidance schemes.
It would require the panel to invoke Section 6103, a tax law statute from 1924, which gives the committee discretion to request individuals' tax returns for examination.
The vote is set for 4:00pm EDT.
Pascrell said he believes the president may be in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits elected officials from taking foreign money--a charge that the watchdog group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) also brought against Trump in a lawsuit filed earlier this year. The president famously refused to divest his assets from his family's corporate empire while in office.
"I believe he might be in violation. I'm not the Justice Department, but we should take the first step in order to get these things to the Justice Department," Pascrell toldNorthJersey.com. "This has nothing to do with Mr. Trump personally. This has everything to do with the integrity of the Congress in a checks and balance system."
His resolution has the support of Americans for Tax Fairness, a coalition of 425 organizations including MoveOn.org, the AFL-CIO, and Public Citizen's Congress Watch Division.
Likewise, recent petitions and public opinion surveys indicate that a majority of Americans want to see Trump's finances, too. The activist group 5 Calls, which helps constituents get in touch with their representatives, urged followers to get in touch with the panel and express support for Pascrell's resolution.
Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, said all the recent activism shows this is an issue "that the American people care a great deal about."
"It's important for members of the Ways and Means Committee be on the record. This vote is an opportunity to bring more accountability, transparency, and honesty to our political system," Clemente said. "If this resolution fails, the public should know which members of Congress are continuing to allow President Trump to hide his business dealings and possible conflicts of interests, and the ways that he could gain personally from his tax plan."
The resolution faces an uphill battle, as the chairman of the committee, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), has hinted his opposition to using congressional powers to "rummage around" Trump's tax returns.
But Pascrell said the hearing at least gives him and other Democrats the opportunity to press the issue.
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