WASHINGTON -- House Republicans, including all five from New Jersey, unanimously have rejected Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr.'s latest effort to force the release of President Donald Trump's income tax returns
The resolution was tabled Monday night along party lines, 229-185, with two Republicans voting present, thus killing it. All five New Jersey House Republicans voted to kill the measure while all seven House Democrats from the state opposed the motion to table.
Pascrell (D-9th Dist.) had used a provision in House rules to force a vote on whether to have the House Ways and Means Committee request the returns and then vote to release them to the public.
Americans' views of Trump's ethics
"The House must demonstrate that it cares about protecting the integrity of our government, of our Constitution, of our system of checks and balances," Pascrell said on the House floor. "Let's shine a bright light on the president's conflicts together as we as a Congress and the broader American public can judge whether his decisions are being made for himself, his business interests or for the greater good of the American people."
Pascrell has wondered whether the tax returns will show financial ties between Trump and Russia, whose president, Vladimir Putin, was found by U.S. intelligence agencies to have directed efforts to intervene in the presidential election on behalf of the Republican nominee.
Trump has turned over control of his businesses to his sons while keeping ownership. The head of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter M. Shaub Jr., said that the arrangement "does not comport with the tradition of our presidents over the past 40 years."
In a McClatchy-Marist survey released last week that asked about potential conflicts of interest between Trump's business holdings and his duties as president, 53 percent said the president had done something illegal or unethical while just 41 percent said he had done nothing wrong.
Breaking with decades of precedent, Trump refused to release his tax returns during the campaign, and Pascrell, the only New Jersey lawmaker sitting on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, has pushed to get the panel to review them.
Committee Republicans have rejected Pascrell's efforts. Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said he did not want Congress to "rummage around in the tax returns of the president."
A 1924 law enacted in response to the Teapot Dome scandal gives the committee authority to request an individual's tax return and then to decide whether it should be publicly released.
Jonathan D. Salant may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JDSalant or on Facebook. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.
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