WASHINGTON, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Democrats in the U.S. Congress on Wednesday tackled the daunting task of reviewing six years of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns as Republicans prepared to take control of the House representatives in less than six weeks.
Members of the Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee said they hoped to receive feedback from Trump as early as next week after the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. refuse Trump’s attempt to shield records from congressional scrutiny.
While the documents, first sought by the committee in 2019 when Trump was still president, will remain subject to federal confidentiality restrictions, Democratic lawmakers could release some details, possibly after a plenum vote.
Democrats have until Jan. 3 to review the documents before Republicans take control of the House, after winning a narrow majority in the Nov. 8 midterm election, and end the investigation. Ways and Means Democrats said they needed to see Trump’s records to assess whether the Internal Revenue Service was properly auditing presidential tax returns and to assess whether new legislation was needed.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a Ways and Means Democrat, said panel members may have to work weekends and holidays to review Trump’s tax returns.
“There is certainly an alternative of making these documents public. And the time pressure here creates an additional reason to consider doing so,” Doggett told CNN.
“There is a way to get those tax returns to the House, and the House can act on it. And that would have the effect of making them public, and then they could be scrutinized more carefully,” Doggett said.
A spokesperson for the ways and means committee did not respond to a request for comment on the panel’s plans.
Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee, the counterpart to the Ways and Means Committee, were considering their options on any action related to Trump’s tax returns, according to an aide who spoke on condition of anonymity.
These two committees are among three in Congress whose chairs can receive individual tax returns upon request under federal law. The third panel is the Joint Committee on Taxation.
The Supreme Court ruling was a setback for Trump, who faces multiple federal and state investigations as he pursues another race for the presidency in 2024.
Republicans have said the Supreme Court’s decision not to halt the release of Trump’s filings could allow Congress to turn private tax returns and the IRS into political weapons.
“The Supreme Court has no idea what their inaction triggers,” Rep. Kevin Brady, the top Republican in the ways and means, said in a statement. “They are opening up a dangerous new political battleground where no citizen is safe.”
Committee members will consider what information related to Trump’s tax returns can be made public when Congress returns to work next week. The House, currently on Thanksgiving recess in the United States, is expected to return to work next Tuesday, but leave Washington for the year on Dec. 15. Lawmakers also face a December 16 deadline to maintain government funding.
Reporting by David Morgan; Additional reporting by Moira Warburton; Editing by Will Dunham
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