The House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday rejected a Democratic push to ask for President Trump’s tax returns.
The amendment, offered by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) to the panel’s oversight plan, was voted down on a party-line vote.
Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) sent committee chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) a letter earlier this month asking him to request the returns from Treasury so that the committee could review them in a closed meeting and consider whether they should be made public.
The chairmen of the Ways and Means Committee, Senate Finance Committee and Joint Committee on Taxation can request tax returns from Treasury under federal tax law.
Brady on Monday told reporters he would not request the returns, saying that the committee wouldn’t weaken taxpayers’ privacy rights.
Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday argued that requesting Trump’s tax returns is important to get more information about Trump’s potential conflicts of interest. They said that reviewing Trump’s tax returns is important for national security, in light of national security adviser Michael Flynn resigning following reports that he misled White House officials about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador.
“This is about our nation’s security,” said Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.). He added that the public needs to know about Trump’s connections to Russia and whether the president is in a position where he could be blackmailed.
Democrats also argued that it’s important to know how Trump might be affected by any tax-reform legislation that Congress considers.
“The president and the congressional Republicans have been very vocal regarding their desire to enact comprehensive tax reform for this Congress,” Pascrell said. “We believe that it is imperative to know and understand how such tax reform will benefit the president.”
But Brady opposed the amendment, saying that the tax code provision on the requests was intended only to make sure that the tax code is being properly administered.
“I strongly oppose this amendment because it proposes an abuse to the authority given to the Ways and Means chairman,” he said.