WASHINGTON – House Democrats want to force Republicans’ hands on President Donald Trump’s tax returns – but it remains to be seen how effective posturing can be for the minority.
House Democrats plan to have Massachusetts Rep. Katherine M. Clark introduce legislation requiring Trump to release his tax returns from 2007 to 2016, according to the Washington Post.
Democrats know that this move will likely fail. But Jim Manley, a former adviser to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, said there were some political benefits.
“It’s a smart move on their part, but given the rules of the House, I am not sure they will get an opportunity to force it,” Manley said. “But it sure gives a good message for Democrats to drive home, especially as the administration touts its so-called tax reform.”
The ultimate aim of the legislation is to get Republicans voting on record against releasing an unpopular president’s tax returns.
Democrats are trying to tie Republicans to other controversies involving Trump.
New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler introduced a resolution of inquiry in February that would ask the Justice Department to investigate Trump’s potential conflicts of interest, ethics violations and ties to Russia.
Nadler sought a full floor vote if the House Judiciary Committee didn’t act. But his resolution went nowhere either in committee or on the floor.
Republican strategist Michael Steel, who worked for former Speaker John Boehner, said it’s unlikely that the Democrats can score points on Trump’s tax returns.
“It’s clearly not an issue that hurt the president in the general election,” said Steel, who also worked for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign where he ran against Trump.
“It’s not a high-priority issue for the American people,” he said. “And it doesn’t help Washington Democrats appeal to the swing voters they would need in the midterms.”
Republicans used similar tactics when they were in the minority, Steel said. But Republicans, he said, also pushed for procedural votes that were able to split Democrats on issues like immigration and guns.
“The powers of the minority in the House are very limited, which makes it even more important to do it in a smart way,” he said.
Manley isn’t opposed to using procedural votes against Republicans now that they’re in the majority.
“When you’re in minority in House it’s difficult to follow through,” he said. “But it gives a great message,” he said.
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