Congress

Top Democrats seek new rule that would force Trump’s Cabinet to release tax returns

From left to right, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. On Thursday, Murray and Stabenow, along with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, proposed a rule change that would require all of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees to release their tax returns.
From left to right, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. On Thursday, Murray and Stabenow, along with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, proposed a rule change that would require all of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees to release their tax returns. AP

While Donald Trump wouldn’t release his tax returns during his campaign, all of the president-elect’s Cabinet nominees would be forced to do so under a rule change proposed by top Senate Democrats on Thursday.

Washington state Sen. Patty Murray, the third-ranked Democratic leader, said the Senate must “scrutinize them even more than usual” as Trump puts together one of the wealthiest administrations in modern times.

Under current rules, only the Senate Committees on Finance, Budget, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs have the authority to require Cabinet nominees to provide the Senate with their last three years of tax returns. The new Democratic proposal would give similar authority to other committees, extending the disclosure requirement to all Cabinet nominees.

“After running on the idea that he was going to stand with the common man and fight Wall Street and big business, he is putting together a gold-plated and mahogany Trump-style Cabinet of Wall Street bankers, billionaires, millionaires, friends, insiders, campaign contributors and cronies,” Murray, the ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said at a Capitol Hill news conference. “He said he was going to drain the swamp, but he he seems to think the way to do that is by filling it with even bigger swamp creatures.”

After running on the idea that he was going to stand with the common man and fight Wall Street and big business, he is putting together a gold-plated and mahogany Trump-style Cabinet of Wall Street bankers, billionaires, millionaires, friends, insiders, campaign contributors and cronies.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Under current rules, Murray said, only the Senate Committees on Finance, Budget, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs have the authority to require Cabinet nominees to provide the Senate with their last three years of tax returns.

The new Democratic proposal would give similar authority to other committees, extending the disclosure requirement to all Cabinet nominees.

Murray announced the plan with two other Democrats, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

“We take our responsibility seriously and it’s our view that we can’t do our job fully without all the information,” Wyden said.

As a presidential candidate, Trump said he would not release his tax returns because he was being audited by the Internal Revenue Service. But he’ll be subject to an automatic audit every year as soon as he moves to the White House.

Democrats plan to push for the change when the new Congress convenes in January. Murray called on Senate Republicans to “stand with us on the side of transparency and not work to sweep potential conflicts of interests or cronyism under the rug.”

“This shouldn’t be a problem for those nominees who have nothing to hide,” Murray said. “If they have no conflicts of interest—they have nothing to worry about by letting us review their tax returns.”

Rob Hotakainen: 202-383-6154, @HotakainenRob

  Comments