House Democrats are preparing to table a reform bill which includes legislation that requires presidential candidates to disclose 10 years of tax returns.
The ‘For the People Act’ sends a clear message to president Donald Trump that the new Democratic House intends to be more aggressive in going after his finances, reports the Washington Post.
The bill will move through a number of House committees in the next few weeks and is expected to be considered on the House floor later in 2019.
In its current form, the bill’s blueprint would force all presidential and vice-presidential candidates to release 10 years of tax returns. The move is part of a wider effort to get the president to publicly disclose his tax information.
In addition to the ‘For the People Act’, Democrats in the house are seeking Trump’s tax returns through existing federal laws that grant the chairs of congressional taxation committees access to any tax returns. The new chair of the Ways and Means Committee, Democrat Richard E. Neal, is hoping to pursue the president’s tax filings through this legal avenue in the coming months, the Washington Post reports.
The ‘For the People Act’ would go beyond Trump’s personal tax returns. Its scope would include the president’s inaugural committee and his transition team, which raised tens of millions of dollars.
Other parts of the bill would improve transparency regarding political donations, expand voter registration, and improve access to voting options.
A public financing system for political campaigns, similar to that seen in New York City, where the government would match donations made to presidential and congressional campaigns under $200 at a ratio of 6:1 is also included in the bill.
The bill ultimately seeks to reduce corporate influence in politics while strengthening democracy ahead of the 2020 election. It would require states use an independent redistricting commission to draw up congressional districts, to avoid a repeat of the gerrymandering seen in the 2018 mid-terms.
There is also a component that prohibits members of Congress from sitting on the boards of private, for-profit entities.
However, the bill may be more gesture than legal recourse. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader who has opposed political spending restrictions told the Wall Street Journal that the bill would be killed in the Senate.
There are some components of the bill that may make it through the gauntlet of the Republican-controlled Senate. Democrat John Sarbanes expects bipartisan cooperation on the elements of the bill that would tighten election security and promote digital ad transparency.
Sarbanes told the Washington Post, “If he [Mitch McConnell] wants to ultimately stand with his arms folded between the American people and their democracy, then he should go right ahead, but I think he’s going to get knocked over by where the sentiment of the country is right now.”
What's Your Reaction?
Oliver is a UK-born freelance writer and journalist based in Boston. He is a self-confessed politics junkie with a passion for foreign and environmental policy. His work has been featured on Open Democracy, International Policy Digest, and the London Economic. He was a regular contributor for ASEAN Today.