Republicans on the House Ways and Means committee voted down a proposal on Tuesday that would have let Congress obtain President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) first advanced the proposal in a letter to the committee’s chair on February 1st. His request that the committee obtain Trump’s tax returns is based on an obscure tax law: Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code.
That law allows three congressional committees — House Ways and Means, Senate Finance, and the Joint Committee on Taxation — to request that the IRS disclose private tax information to the committee. The committee can then review it, and vote on whether to disclose it to the public. Both the review and disclosure must be in the public interest.
“In 1924, Congress put in place this statute, 6103, in our tax law, specifically to investigate conflicts of interest in the executive branch of government,” Pascrell said at the committee meeting, pointing out that the law was passed shortly after the Teapot Dome Scandal. “Following that scandal, Congress wanted a way to examine business ties in the Executive Branch of government. That is the law, Mr. Chairman.”
Unlike all but one Presidential nominee since Nixon, Trump has not released his tax returns to the public (Gerald Ford, the one nominee who didn’t, released a summary). Trump has also, unlike every other modern president, refused to divest from his business holdings.