Hours after House GOP leaders and President Donald Trump on Friday made the decision to finally pull their ill-fated health care plan, one of the bill’s architects made an interesting pivot to Trump’s tax returns.
But not by choice.
Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, whose panel was responsible for half of the GOP’s now-defunct bill to partially repeal and replace the 2010 health care law, announced Friday evening that the committee on Tuesday would mark up a resolution of inquiry directing the Treasury Secretary to provide the House with Trump’s tax returns and “other specified financial information.” A copy of the resolution was not posted with the markup announcement.
The Ways and Means markup on the matter of Trump’s tax returns is a vote Democrats are forcing under a procedural tool known as a resolution of inquiry, a Ways and Means Democratic aide confirmed.
A Ways and Means majority spokeswoman said the committee either has to mark up the resolution, or the minority can bring it up on the floor. After the Committee reports the resolution, only the chairman or his designee can bring it up on the floor.
Resolutions of inquiry must be marked up within 14 legislative days of introduction. Ways and Means member Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., filed the resolution on Trump’s tax returns on March 9, the second day of the panel’s markup of the health care bill. Tuesday, the day of the now scheduled markup, would be the 12th legislative day.
Because Ways and Means Committee has a three-day rule for noticing markups, they had to send it out Friday or early next week, despite the bad optics of it coming after the defeat of the health care bill.
Any member can file a resolution of inquiry, and Democrats have been taking advantage of that to force committees to vote on matters related to Trump.
For example, New York Democrat Jerrold Nadler filed a resolution of inquiry in the House Judiciary Committee asking the Department of Justice to provide Congress with information related to Trump and his associates’ conflicts of interest, ethical violations and connections and contacts with Russia. The committee defeated the resolution along party lines on February 28.
Democrats, led by Pascrell, have also been using procedural motions on the House floor to call attention to their belief that Trump should release his tax returns. Republicans have defeated the motions.
"I believe our Ways and Means Committee meeting can help members understand why Congress must request the President's tax returns as the law allows and the American people demand,” Pascrell said. “We have an opportunity to reassure our constituents in a bipartisan fashion that there are no conflicts or emoluments in Mr. Trump's unprecedented business arrangement. I still have hope that Congress will provide needed oversight of the executive."