Democrats, Republicans clash over release of Trump's tax returns

Trump back to combative self after appeal for compromise

House Democrats take 1st step to obtain Trump's tax returns

"It's just, what do we get in exchange for that?" said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., another one of the committee members.

Democrats hope that the hearing will help build their case for why the American people need to see Trump's tax returns. Their newly energized leftward wing is pushing the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., to set the quest in motion, and fast.

Publicly on Thursday Trump took a wait-and-see approach. He said Neal is consulting with lawyers for the House "to determine the appropriate legal steps to go forward with this unprecedented request".

A quarter of the federal government shut down for over a month starting in December 2018 because Democrats refused to include money for the wall, after Trump said he wouldn't sign any appropriations unless they included wall funding.

"I don't see any wiggle room for the Treasury secretary to refuse the request", said George Yin, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law and former chief of staff for the Joint Committee on Taxation, adding it would be "unprecedented" for the secretary to refuse.

The latest proposals peg the topline funding number for border barriers around $2 billion, according to two people familiar with the talks. The Austin Democrat said Republicans were the ones who have "weaponized the tax code", pointing back to their investigation in 2014 of the IRS' treatment of conservative political groups. "This is about protecting the private tax returns of every American". "Such an abuse of power would open a Pandora's box".

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats' leader, expects the White House to fight such a request and "so the question is, where do we go from there".

Joseph J. Thorndike, director of the Tax History Project, agreed that presidential candidates disclosing their tax returns is "tradition, not a law".

Although Trump warned Congress in his State of the Union on Tuesday that "there can not be war and investigation" if lawmakers want 'peace and legislation, ' House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff declared Wednesday that Democrats are not intimidated.

"It's not a question of just sending a letter", Pelosi told reporters Thursday.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he planned to receive a briefing from Congress's nonpartisan tax scorekeepers on the process, the Hill reported.

The ensuing legal battle threatens to derail the rest of the Ways and Means Committee's other priorities, including prescription drug price reductions, overhauling retirement plans and rolling back portions of the GOP tax bill.

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Since the early 1970s, most presidents have chosen to release their tax returns to the public for the years they serve in office and only while they hold office, which they are not required to do under the law. Robert Dole. During the 2016 campaign, Vice President Mike Pence released 10 years of his tax returns covering 2006-2015. The legislation also would make it easier for citizens to register and vote, and ban executive-branch officials from lobbying their old agency for two years after they leave government.

The matter could end up in court if the Trump administration does not comply with Democrats' requests.

There is another alternative, of course, the House and Senate could decide to call the President's bluff and dare him to veto a package that has widespread, possibly even veto-proof, bipartisan support, thus leading to another government shutdown on February 15th unless the veto can be overridden.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told The New York Times that if any requests are made, he would work with the department's general counsel and the general counsel for the IRS. Lawmakers face a February 15 deadline when large portions of the government will shutdown unless Congress and Trump act first.

A coalition of three liberal groups - Tax March, Indivisible, and Stand Up America - wrote to Ways and Means chairman Richard Neal, Democrat of MA, last month, publicly pushing him to "immediately" obtain Trump's tax returns, according to Roll Call.

Lowey said, "Are you kidding me?" when asked whether she was going to the retreat.

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