US House Democrats and Republicans on Thursday clashed with each other over a bid to release President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
“Every president should release his or her returns to the public as a matter of course,” Democratic lawmaker Bill Pascrell told a Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight hearing.
“And when we have cause for concern over conflicts or tax violations we have every reason to use the authority given to this committee,” he said. “The law is on our side.”
Pascrell was referring to a 1924 law that allows the chairs of Congress’s tax committees to look into anyone’s confidential returns, Xinhua news agency reported.
Republican lawmaker Mike Kelly argued the move would set a dangerous precedent, saying “an abuse of power would open a Pandora’s box that would be tough to get a lid back on.”
“There is no end in sight for those whose tax information may be in jeopardy,” Kelly said.
Several tax experts were also called upon to testify.
The hearing was part of House Democrats’ effort to push an ethics legislation, which would require presidents and vice presidents as well as candidates for those posts to release their tax returns in previous 10 years.
That legislation, however, is likely to be dead on the arrival in the Senate as Republicans control the upper chamber.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, urged patience from Democrats in going after Trump’s tax returns.
“It’s not a question of just sending a letter,” Pelosi told reporters on Thursday. “You have to do it in a very careful way.”
Trump has rejected a decades-old tradition that presidents and White House hopefuls would make their tax returns public.
Democrats have claimed that Trump’s business dealings present a host of potential conflicts of interest that they can’t understand without his tax information.