House Democrats will seek to require presidential nominees to disclose 10 years of tax returns—expanding previous plans for one of their first major legislative actions of the 116th Congress.
The provision will be included in a legislative package Democrats are referring to as H.R. 1. The package—likely to be introduced early in the new Congress, which begins Jan. 3—is to include provisions to strengthen oversight, expand conflict-of-interest laws, and overhaul the Office of Government Ethics.
The original plan for the bill was to require presidential nominees to release their returns for the three most recent taxable years. Democrats decided Jan. 2 to bump that number up to 10 years, according to a House Democratic aide with knowledge of the bill.
The oversight package is set to be one of the first major legislative actions taken by the new Democrat-controlled House. Its outlook in the Senate, where Republicans widened their majority in November, is bleak.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Dec. 3 at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council’s annual meeting that H.R. 1 isn’t “going to go anywhere in the Senate.” He said he expects the legislation to be a “blatantly unconstitutional effort to have the government basically micromanage the way we handle elections.”
Separately, House Democrats have been trying to decide the best approach for requesting President Donald Trump’s tax returns. Trump departed from nearly 40 years of tradition by refusing to release his returns during his 2016 presidential bid.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who is in line to get the speaker’s gavel, previously said demanding the president’s returns would be one of the first things the new House Democratic majority would do. More recently, however, she deferred to incoming Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) on deciding the best path forward.
As leader of Ways and Means, Neal will have the authority—under a provision in the tax code—to request any individual tax return, including the president’s, from the Treasury secretary. Neal told reporters Dec. 19 that other priorities, such as health care and retirement, would take precedence over the tax returns but that eventually the committee would get to that issue.
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(Updates with Senate outlook in fourth and fifth paragraphs)