Forcing President Donald Trump to release his tax returns is among the top issues House Democrats plan to tackle in their first legislation of 2019, Democratic leaders said Friday.
Bill H.R. 1 would require all presidents to disclose their tax returns. Although most have, Trump — a billionaire before taking office — did not.
“I think it’s important for our oversight to get those tax returns,” Texas Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett said Friday, according to Fox News.
Although the bill might pass the Democratic-controlled House, the Senate will have a 53-47 Republican majority. The legislation would also have to be signed into law by Trump, who has said that because the IRS is auditing him, he will not release his returns.
Other parts of the legislation seek to pre-empt the role of states in overseeing elections, The Associated Press reported.
The bill would create national voter registration and expand early and online voter registration. States would get increased assistance and oversight in handling elections.
The bill will also, its proponents claim, add disclosure requirements for political contributions, impose an ethics code on the Supreme Court, and curb first-class travel for federal officials, The Washington Post reported.
“We must also empower hard-working Americans in our democracy by building a 21st-century campaign-finance system — combining small-donor incentives and matching support — to increase and multiply the power of small donors,” wrote incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland in an Op-Ed published in The Washington Post.
“We have to have a government voters can trust, and this is the first step to building a government they can trust,” said incoming Democratic Congresswoman Veronica Escobar of Texas.
The bill would strip power away from states, which currently redraw district lines after each Census, and give that power to independent commissions, NPR reported.
Democrats claim the action is needed to uphold the Voting Rights Act.
“House Democratic leaders are set to publicly unveil on Friday the outline of a broad political overhaul bill that will include provisions for public financing of elections, voting rights reforms, and new ethics strictures for federal officials.” https://t.co/DycoeduQr4
— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) November 30, 2018
Not everyone is sold on the idea.
“A lot of it looks to be unconstitutional,” said David Keating, president of the Institute for Free Speech.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said Democrats could find that “presidential harassment” backfires, noting that it happened to the GOP when it impeached President Bill Clinton.
“His numbers went up and ours went down,” McConnell said. “And we under-performed in the next election. So the Democrats in the House will have to decide just how much presidential harassment they think is a good strategy.”