Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

House Ways and Means Committee chair Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) speaks during a news conference on Republican plans to end the state and local tax deduction in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

'Unearned Gift to Donald Trump': Democrats Under Fire for Slow Approach to Obtaining President's Tax Returns

"Each day of delay does not strengthen their litigation hand."

Jake Johnson

After taking control of the House in the 2018 midterms, Democrats vowed to get their hands on President Donald Trump's tax returns as part of their broad oversight agenda.

But, months into 2019, critics say Democrats are moving with "incomprehensible sluggishness" that is threatening their chances of getting the documents before the 2020 elections.

"Contrary to what Neal has been saying, each day of delay does not strengthen their litigation hand—it is an unearned gift to Donald Trump."
—Jeff Hauser, Revolving Door Project
As HuffPost's Arthur Delaney reported Sunday, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.)—the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee—"can ask for copies of Donald Trump's federal tax returns whenever he wants, but Neal is in no hurry and seemingly doesn't care if Democrats don't get the documents before the next election."

"Democrats said they'd make the request for Trump's returns after regaining control of the House of Representatives, but they've waited nearly three months to follow through," Delaney added. "Neal has said only that he will make the request sometime this year, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has backed his cautious approach."

Jeff Hauser, director of the Revolving Door Project at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), said Neal's hesitance is inexcusable.

"Contrary to what Neal has been saying, each day of delay does not strengthen their litigation hand—it is an unearned gift to Donald Trump," Hauser told HuffPost.

Hauser added in a tweet Sunday that there is "zero basis to any of Neal's gestures at an explanation" of the delay.

The law, Delaney notes, is clear that the Treasury Secretary is obligated to turn over documents requested by the Ways and Means chair.

But as Common Dreams reported earlier this year, Neal has signaled that he intends to move extremely cautiously on the tax return issue, despite growing grassroots pressure to end the delays.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has declined to say directly whether he would turn over Trump's tax returns upon request—suggesting that there may be a legal battle over the documents.

That scenario would further draw out the process, making it less likely that House Democrats would obtain the president's tax returns before November 2020.

At least one Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee publicly expressed frustration with Neal's approach.

"I think you got to forget about next year anything happening, so we got eight, nine months to go through courts, get his returns," Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) told HuffPost. "I think the request has to go in very, very soon. I thought it would be done by now."

Tax March, a progressive advocacy group, has been one of the organizations leading the pressure campaign against Neal as he continues to slow-walk the process of obtaining Trump's tax returns, which the president has refused to release voluntarily.

"We have played this game for years, and Donald Trump will not willingly release his tax returns," Maura Quint, executive director of Tax March, said in January. "The only solution is for Chairman Neal to request his tax returns immediately."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Grim and Alarming' UN Report Details 'Catastrophic' Global Failure on Climate

"We are not going in the right direction," warns the head of the World Meteorological Organization.

Andrea Germanos ·

Analysis Shows Facebook Allows 99% of Climate Disinformation to Go Unchecked

The new study coincided with Facebook's new initiative to combat climate lies, which civil society groups criticized as "too little, too late."

Jake Johnson ·

Sanders Says There's 'No Excuse' for Any Democrat to Oppose Lowering Drug Prices

"Now is the time for Congress to show courage and stand up to the greed of the pharmaceutical industry."

Jake Johnson ·

Covid-19 Vaccine Makers Blasted for 'Unconscionable Profits,' Monopolies, and Low Taxes

"Big Pharma's business model—receive billions in public investments, charge exorbitant prices for lifesaving medicines, pay little tax—is gold dust for wealthy investors and corporate executives but devastating for global public health."

Common Dreams staff ·

UN Human Rights Chief Calls for Global Halt to Sales of Dangerous AI Technologies

"The power of AI to serve people is undeniable, but so is AI's ability to feed human rights violations at an enormous scale with virtually no visibility."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo