WASHINGTON – With a power shift in the House, Democrats are prepared to use their newfound majority and subpoena power to go after all manner of financial records that could back up their claims that the President is using his presidency to enrich himself and his family.
After two years of being blocked by the White House, Republican Leadership, and The Trump Organization at every turn, Democrats hope the new year will provide sunshine on such issues as foreign government spending at Trump properties, Trump’s foreign licensing deals, Trump administration ties to lobbyists and special interests, and spending by Trump’s charitable foundation.
Maryland congressman Elijah Cummings, a Democrat, is poised to take charge of the House Oversight Committee, which could seek Trump’s business tax returns and other company-related financial records.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s personal income taxes, which he withheld during the 2016 campaign and in his two years in office, are expected to be the purview of the House Ways and Means Committee because Internal Revenue Service law allows House and Senate tax-writing committees to request federal returns. Ranking Ways and Means Democrat, Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, has signaled publicly he would ask for them — a move the White House might fight.
Chautauqua County’s representative in Congress, Tom Reed (R-Corning) won reelection this week and is a member of the Ways and Means Committee. WRFA asked him his thoughts about the subpoena power the Democrats will have in the House now that they are in power.
“Having oversight an investigative oversight in the house is appropriate. If they’re investigating legitimate concerns and not playing politics, hopefully that’s the course that they will pursue,” Reed said. “What I’m very concerned about is if they turn this into a political circus and they use it for political point scoring, all of a sudden that’s going to add to an even more difficult environment in DC to get things done.”
Reed also commented on House leadership and who the new speaker would be. Many speculate that person will be former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but Reed says that’s not a given.
“Looking at the candidates and the members on the other side of the aisle that have stated publicly they do not want to see Nancy Pelosi as speaker, I think with a ten-seat majority that is going to be very difficult for her to have the votes on the floor of the House,” Reed said. “I don’t know how 40-50 people running for office on the Democratic side saying they would not support Nancy Pelosi and that they need new leadership for speaker can then turn their backs on their word to their constituents and vote for Nancy Pelosi. So I think they are going to have a contentious battle over there but at the end of the day, I’m willing to work with anybody who’s willing to reform these rules and start legislating. So let’s see who steps forward and hopefully it’s a breath of fresh air on the Democratic side.”
Reed, who is co-chair of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, is referring to proposed rules changes that group brought forward in July that it says will reward openness and transparency, encourage a willingness to reach across the aisle, create debate on divisive issues, and empower lawmakers to find real solutions concerning our nation’s most pressing matters. The package includes — among others — proposals to give fast-track priority consideration to bipartisan legislation and guarantees markups on bipartisan legislation from every Member of Congress.
As for alternatives to Pelosi, Reed said he would support Democrat Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who currently serves as the House minority whip and has voiced support for the rules changes brought forward by the Problem Solvers.
The next session of Congress, which begins in January 2019, will mark the first extended period of time Reed has been part of the minority party since first being elected in 2010, when Republicans took control of the House as part of that year’s Mid-Term elections.