BY NAOMI JAGODA – 01/04/17 03:47 PM EST
The measure comes as Democrats are pushing to increase the financial transparency of Trump and his wealthy Cabinet picks. But it is unlikely to be enacted with Trump taking office later this month and Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress.
Wyden’s bill would require sitting presidents to provide their three most recent years of tax returns to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE). It would also mandate that major-party presidential nominees release their returns to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) within 15 days of accepting the nomination at party conventions.
Under the bill, if presidents and nominees don’t release their tax returns, the Treasury secretary would provide them directly to OGE and FEC. The agencies would then make the returns public.
Wyden had introduced a version of the bill last year that focused just on nominees. After Trump won, he expressed his intention to re-offer the measure to have it also apply to sitting presidents.
“The fact that the president-elect refuses to release his tax returns is a tragic failure of transparency, and it needs to be corrected,” Wyden said in a news release. “With President-Elect Trump flouting bipartisan traditions of disclosure while engaging with foreign leaders at the highest level, it’s more important than ever to ensure that the Commander-in-Chief isn’t playing by a different set of rules.”
Democratic lawmakers have been expressing concerns about potential conflicts of interest for the president-elect and his Cabinet, reportedly the wealthiest in history.
Democrats have been pressing for all of Trump’s Cabinet picks to provide their tax returns to Senate committees. And a group of Senate Democrats intend to offer legislation this year that would require Trump to sell assets that pose a conflict of interest and put the money into a blind trust.
During the campaign, Trump became the first major-party presidential nominee to refuse to release his tax returns, a move that drew criticism from Democrats as well as from some Republicans.
Trump said that he would make his returns public once the IRS finished auditing him. However, the IRS has said that nothing prevents people from releasing their own tax information, including audits.