When the Senate returns after Labor Day, Senate Democrats plan to push legislation to force presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.
They are making no secret that the impetus for their action is this year’s Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Senate Finance ranking member Ron Wyden of Oregon who unveiled the proposal in May, told reporters Thursday that he would be taking the floor and calling for the measure to be passed when the legislative session resumes.
“The reality is for 40 years, there has been a good government, transparency-in-politics standard,” Wyden said. “The bottom line is you just don’t get to hide your tax return from public view when you’re running for president of the United States.”
Sen. Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut, who joined Wyden on a Thursday call, said lawmakers would have written the requirement into law earlier if they had any reason to think a major party nominee would decline to disclose returns.
“I wish we weren’t in this position,” Murphy said. “We’re in the position now of having to bring this to our colleagues now late in the election season.”
The renewed effort comes the same day that the presidential campaign of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton launched a new television ad blasting Trump for not releasing his tax returns. A campaign aide said it would be put into circulation as part of an existing ad buy.
Wyden and Murphy weren’t prepared to detail what they might do beyond asking for unanimous consent to get a vote.
The bill would direct the Federal Election Commission to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service tax returns that are not turned over voluntarily. Trump has argued that it would be ill-advised for him to release his returns while they are the subject of an IRS audit.
Wyden noted that the Finance Committee seeks three years of tax returns as a matter of routine for Senate confirmation for executive branch nominees under their jurisdiction.
“We’re going to [do] everything we can to bring this bill up immediately,” Wyden said. “The election gets closer every day, so the American people shouldn’t have to wait any longer.”
“Donald Trump is running for president at least in part to try and make himself more money,” Murphy said. “If Donald Trump had nothing to hide in his taxes, we would have seen them by now.”
Murphy also argued that the matter was particularly urgent given Trump’s connections and apparent business dealings with Russia, since authority already exists within the executive branch to loosen sanctions against the country.
“Congress has given the president the ability to impose sanctions and to lift sanctions,” Murphy said.