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The House Ways and Means Committee voted along party lines on Tuesday to release years of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
The Democratic-controlled committee outvoted a united Republican dissent. The move comes a day after GOP Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois joined seven Democrats on the House January 6 Committee to recommend criminal charges against the former president.
“This is one of the most important votes I will ever cast as a member of Congress, and I stand by it 100 percent,” Democratic Rep. Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania said, according to The New York Times.
Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the committee, slammed the committee’s decision: “What was clear today is that public disclosure of President Trump’s private tax returns has nothing to do with the stated purpose of reviewing the I.R.S. presidential audit process.”
The materials, once released, are expected to include Trump’s tax filings for the years 2015-2020, according to CNN. The release will also include audits and tax information on eight of Trump’s businesses. Trump’s tax returns will be accompanied by a supplemental summary from the Joint Committee on Taxation.
It’s unclear when the documents will be released. The returns must be redacted for sensitive personal material, such as social security numbers, before they can be released to the public. The process of censoring the returns is expected to take several days.
While the release of an American’s private tax returns by Congress is not without precedent, it is a rare move. Democrats maneuvering to get Trump’s tax returns, which the former president has fought for years to keep private, out into the open is complicated even more by Trump’s November 15 announcement that he is running again for president in 2024.
The legal fight that resulted in Tuesday’s vote began in 2019 when the Ways and Means Committee sued to get Trump’s tax returns. Before the committee convened, Brady warned Democrats against releasing Trump’s tax returns and creating a “dangerous new political weapon,” according to the Associated Press.
“Our concern is not whether the president should have made his tax returns public, as is traditional, nor about the accuracy of his tax returns,” Brady said. “Our concern is that, if taken, this committee action will set a terrible precedent that unleashes a dangerous new political weapon that reaches far beyond the former president and overturns decades of privacy protections for average Americans that have existed since the Watergate reforms.”