Rep. Pascrell Files Inquiry to Review Trump Tax Returns
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, introduced a Resolution of Inquiry directing the Secretary of the Treasury to submit to the House of Representatives President Trump’s tax returns for tax years 2006 through 2015, as well as financial documentation that details debts held by foreign governments and foreign companies; investments in foreign countries and foreign enterprises; and use of any tax shelters, corporate structures, tax avoidance maneuvers, abatements, or other loopholes to reduce or eliminate tax liability.
"The smoldering pile of potential conflicts around President Trump is starting to flare up. Whether it's branding deals with foreign governments or local D.C. businesses claiming the President's hotel holds an unfair advantage, we cannot ignore the signs," Rep. Pascrell said. "I'm a firm believer in the maxim where there's smoke, there's fire. The smoke is billowing out of the White House right now. We need to act and we have the power to act. I'm not sure what we're waiting for."
If the House Ways and Means Committee does not schedule Rep. Pascrell's Resolution of Inquiry for a markup within 14 legislative days, it becomes a Privileged Resolution and can be brought to the floor in front of the full House for a vote.
A portion of the U.S. tax code, Section 6103(f)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code, allows the House Committee on Ways and Means, the Senate Committee on Finance, and the Joint Committee on Taxation to make such a request to allow members of the committee to review the tax documents of any individual in closed session and consider their public release. This move would allow for important Congressional oversight of potential conflicts of interest, which up to this point has not been possible because of the President’s refusal to release his tax returns.
Rep. Pascrell's Resolution of Inquiry follows a bipartisan letter with 164 members of Congress calling on Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ways and Means Chairman Brady to similarly submit a formal request to the Secretary of the Treasury for President Trump’s tax returns for each of the past ten years.
A Resolution of Inquiry is a legislative tool that has privileged parliamentary status, meaning it can be brought to the floor if the relevant Committee hasn’t reported it within 14 legislative days, even if the Majority leadership has not scheduled it for a vote. Once introduced, the Committee must schedule a Markup in that set time, which means there has to be debate and the Committee must vote on the Resolution. The Committee can report the Resolution "unfavorably" after Markup to prevent it from going to the floor, otherwise it can be raised for a vote before the full House of Representatives.
The full text of the Resolution of Inquiry is below (PDF here).
115TH CONGRESS, 1ST SESSION
H Res 186
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Mr. PASCRELL submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on ____________
RESOLUTION Of inquiry directing the Secretary of the Treasury to provide to the House of Representatives the tax returns and other specified financial information of President Donald J. Trump.
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Treasury is directed to furnish to the House of Representatives, not later than 10 days after the adoption of this resolution, the full tax returns of Donald J. Trump for tax years 2006 through 2015, as well as financial documentation and any information in possession of the Secretary that specify—
(1) Mr. Trump’s debts held by foreign governments and foreign companies;
(2) Mr. Trump’s investments in foreign countries and foreign enterprises; and
(3) Mr. Trump’s use of any tax shelters, corporate structures, tax avoidance maneuvers, abatements, or other loopholes to reduce or eliminate tax liability.