[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 140 (Thursday, September 15, 2016)]
[Pages S5813-S5814]

                   UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST--S. 2979

  Mr. WYDEN. Madam President and colleagues, I come to the Senate floor 
today to discuss S. 2979, the Presidential Tax Transparency Act. I am 
very pleased to see that my colleague on the Finance Committee who is 
such a valuable Member, Senator Cardin, is here as well.
  In America, nobody forces you to run for President. You volunteer to 
run for President, and this year we have had a bumper crop of 
volunteers. Since Watergate, there has been a bipartisan tradition 
honored by all candidates that they would release their tax returns. 
Every Democrat, every Republican, every liberal, every conservative has 
subscribed to honoring this particular tradition. Why is it so 
important? Tax returns say so much about a candidate for the world's 
most demanding job. Rather than the spin and deception that counts as 
messaging in a Presidential campaign, the tax returns are legally 
required to be an accounting in black and white of a candidate's 
honesty, integrity, and their personal priorities.
  A return can show whether a nominee has intimate connections to 
powerful interests in foreign governments whose priorities run contrary 
to the interests of typical Americans. A return highlights important 
questions about integrity. Are you the person giving to charity or, as 
some have wondered, are you converting another donor's gift into your 
own? Are you using charities for personal gain?
  A return shows if you pay any taxes at all or if you use the 
complexity of this Byzantine Tax Code to hide your income while working 
Americans have their taxes taken out of their paycheck.
  Today--and I made it clear I am going to shortly try to get support 
for the Presidential Tax Transparency Act. Today honest taxpayers who 
dot every ``i'' and cross every ``t'' are faced with a major 
Presidential candidate who refuses to show even one single page of his 
tax return. This flouting of a tradition honored by every candidate 
since Watergate is just too dangerous to ignore.
  So shortly I will ask unanimous consent that the Senate pass S. 2979, 
the Presidential Tax Transparency Act. It is a straightforward 
proposal. It says within just over 2 weeks of becoming a nominee, at a 
party convention nominees are required to release at least 3 years of 
tax returns. If they refuse, the Treasury Secretary provides the 
returns to the Federal Election Commission and they are put online 
  Since I introduced this bill in the spring, I was asked again and 
again what was behind my thinking. I remember talking to Senator 
Cardin, my colleague on the Finance Committee, about it. I said at 
home, through town meetings, and to colleagues here: Oh, how I wish 
this bill was not necessary. I think certainly millions of Americans 
say: Hey, there are lots of laws already. Why do we need more laws? I 
think we all could feel very proud of this 40-year, bipartisan 
voluntary tradition that all the candidates have honored. I have waited 
to bring this bill up in front of the Senate, until it was clear the 
tradition would not be honored this year.
  I believe it is time for the United States Senate to act on S. 2979, 
the Presidential Tax Transparency Act, to protect honesty, 
accountability, and transparency in our Presidential election process.
  Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the Committee on Rules 
and Administration be discharged from further consideration of S. 2979; 
that the Senate proceed to its immediate consideration; that the bill 
be read a third time and passed, and the motion to reconsider be 
considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The majority whip.
  Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, reserving the right to object--if my 
friend from Oregon wants to discuss transparency and bring the 
Presidential election to the floor of the U.S. Senate, I think the 
person we should start with is the former Secretary of State. She has 
had, to put it charitably, innumerable challenges on the topic of 
  Let's just look at one. All we need to do is look at the way she 
exposed some of our Nation's most highly classified information by 
setting up a private email server in her home. The ensuing 
investigation produced nothing but stonewalling, obfuscation, and 
misleading statements she made to the American public.
  When FBI Director James Comey announced the agency was closing the 
investigation, his statements made clear that Hillary Clinton had not 
been telling the truth. She did send and she did receive classified 
information, again, at some of the various highest levels. Director 
Comey said she and her staff who aided and abetted her were ``extremely 
careless in their handling of this highly sensitive information.''
  In response, I have introduced legislation with the junior Senator 
from Colorado, Senator Gardner, to help hold her and her staff 
accountable. The bill is called the Trust Act and it would revoke the 
security clearance of any person found to have been extremely careless 
in the handling of classified information, and it would keep them from 
receiving a security clearance in the future. It would also clarify 
that when someone has been found by investigators to have been 
extremely careless in handling classified information, that is 
tantamount to gross negligence.
  So I would ask the Senator from Oregon to modify his request so S. 
2979 and S. 3135 be discharged from their respective committees and the 
Senate proceed to their immediate consideration. I would ask unanimous 
consent that the bills be read a third time and passed and that the 
motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Will the Senator so modify his request?
  Mr. WYDEN. Reserving the right to object----
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. WYDEN. Thank you, Madam President.
  First of all, it is with great disappointment and regret that I note 
that Senate Republicans are willing to throw aside a 40-year tradition 
of honesty and openness in our Presidential elections by blocking the 
Presidential Tax Transparency Act.
  With respect to their own proposal, I want to be clear on this point. 
The bill that I have authored, S. 2979, the Presidential Tax 
Transparency Act, affects all the candidates for President in an 
attempt to preserve the tradition of openness and accountability that 
is no

[[Page S5814]]

longer being honored. The proposal offered by my colleague from Texas, 
on behalf of Senate Republicans, responds with a bill targeted at one 
candidate, a proposal that all our true national security experts have 
said would harm America's security. The briefing of our Presidential 
candidates is not just for their benefit, it is for the benefit of the 
American people so we have a smooth, democratic transition of power 
without risk to our national security.
  This attempt to hide the violation of a tradition of openness and 
accountability behind a political witch hunt ought to tell Americans 
all they need to know about Senate Republicans at this point. For that 
reason, I object.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  Is there objection to the original request?
  Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Maryland.
  Mr. CARDIN. Madam President, I join with Senator Wyden in my deep 
disappointment that the Republicans have objected to the continuation 
of a policy that has voluntarily been done for 40 years; that is, those 
who are running for President of the United States release their tax 
returns. I want to underscore a couple of points that were made by 
Senator Wyden. I thank him very much for his leadership on this issue.
  I just came from a hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee--where I have the privilege of being the ranking Democrat--on 
Afghanistan. A large part of that hearing dealt with transparency, good 
governance, corruption, and anti-corruption. That is a key fundamental 
for Afghans' success. This morning I also had a chance to meet with the 
new leader of Burma. She has tremendous challenges in that emerging 
country. Transparency and anti-corruption are critically important to 
the success of that democracy.
  When the United States stands internationally for good governance, 
anti-corruption, and transparency, we first have to deal with our 
issues at home. It is hard for us to demand transparency globally when 
we ourselves fall victim to the failure to make information available 
to the public that they desperately need. Let me tell you why that is 
important. This is not theoretical. The Panama Papers indicate that 
heads of state--current heads of state and former heads of state--have 
used ways to avoid public disclosure of the gains of their office, the 
connections they have had.
  There is a reason why for 40 years we have seen the release of tax 
returns by those running for President. Before they vote, the public 
has a right to know about the potential conflicts that individual 
brings to the Office of the Presidency, the highest office in the land.
  Senator Wyden pointed out accurately that that tax return could very 
well show international contacts, international business, and offshore 
activity that the public has a right to have debated during the course 
of the campaign. It may show a Presidential candidate's use of the 
provisions within our Tax Code to pay a different tax rate or no taxes 
at all. The public has a right to know that before they cast their vote 
so they can ask questions about that. The tax return may show that 
certain statements made in regard to the use of charities are either 
appropriate or not appropriate. They have the right to debate that 
before they cast their vote.
  Senator Wyden's bill carries out current practice. I don't think 
anyone thought 6 months ago that someone would step forward to run for 
the Presidency of the United States and accept the nomination of a 
major political party without disclosing their tax returns. I don't 
think any of us thought that was at issue.
  Senator Wyden has been very patient with this bill. We have given all 
the Presidential candidates that opportunity. Secretary Clinton has 
disclosed her tax returns. Secretary Clinton has made available her 
emails through appropriate channels. That has been done. That 
transparency has been made. But there is a person running on the 
Republican side who has refused to disclose his tax returns. That is 
wrong. That denies the American people the transparency they need to 
judge the candidates and to engage in political discourse during the 
campaign, which is critically important to their decision as to who the 
next President of the United States should be.
  I am extremely disappointed that there has been an objection to 
Senator Wyden's request that we require those who want to be President 
of the United States--the highest office in this land, the highest 
office in the free world--to disclose their tax returns.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. WARREN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 140 (Thursday, September 15, 2016)]
[Pages S5814-S5815]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Ms. WARREN. Madam President, I am on the floor today to talk about 
the Presidential Tax Transparency Act. It is a simple proposal that 
would require every Presidential candidate of a major party to release 
their tax returns. Hillary Clinton has already done it. In fact, every 
single general election candidate in the past nine elections has done 
  I will be honest. This is not the kind of legislation that I thought 
Congress would ever need to pass, but, like a lot of people, I never 
thought that someone like Donald Trump would be the nominee of a major 
political party. Donald Trump makes a big show, strutting around, 
pretending to be tough, but he is too chicken to show his tax returns 
to the American people. He has had a million excuses, but we all know 
why Donald Trump isn't releasing his taxes. He is hiding something.
  For a long time I wasn't sure what he was hiding. But thanks to the 
tireless work of journalists and experts, we at least have some clues 
about what he is hiding. We don't know everything, but slowly some of 
his secrets are starting to leak to the public, and they are not 
  Let's start with the tax scams that we know about. Here are just 
three of them.
  The first scam is claiming tax credits for homeowners who make less 
than $500,000 a year. He wasn't eligible, so he lied--nothing fancy. 
Eventually, the press caught wind of it, and Trump paid up. And if he 
hadn't been caught, he would still be lying about it today.
  Here is another Trump tax scam. Scoop up hundreds of millions of 
dollars in real estate developer subsidies, then skip out on paying any 
income taxes. In 1978, 1979, 1991, and 1993, Trump paid zero dollars in 
income taxes--zero, and that is not a comprehensive list of his zero-
tax years. It is just the years when, for one reason or another, his 
tax returns were public.
  Here is the third Trump tax scam. In this campaign, Trump claims the 
charitable deduction when he gives money to his own foundation, and 
then he uses that foundation for personal expenses and campaign 
  That is just the stuff we know about. So how bad are the things we 
don't know about? The American people should see Donald Trump's tax 
returns so they can decide for themselves if his shameful and, in some 
cases, illegal behavior disqualifies him from being President.
  The tax scams are awful, but they are a sideshow compared to what 
else is probably tucked away in his tax returns. Those tax returns 
would show his personal deals with foreign governments, arrangements 
that could put him in direct conflict with American interests.
  We already know about some of Trump's foreign dealings. We know he 
has gotten Russian oligarchs with close ties to Vladimir Putin to fund 
his businesses. Is he still doing that?
  We know he has financial ties to political dynasties in Turkey. We 
know he is wrapped up in aggressive pipeline plans in North and East 
  The list of countries where Trump has financial conflicts is 
staggering: South Korea, India, Turkey, Libya, Russia, Ukraine, United 
Arab Emirates.
  Remember the Libyan dictator Qadhafi. Back in 2009, Trump was set to 
lease his own estate to the dictator,

[[Page S5815]]

but local protests shut that down. So who else has he been leasing his 
home to--Putin? I mean, maybe Trump's next business will be Airbnb for 
  Tax returns will not tell us everything, but we know that they will 
tell us something about what Trump is hiding. Donald Trump praises 
brutal dictators and murderers. He threatens our allies. He denigrates 
democracy right here at home. He is right out front with all of that 
  What is so bad that Donald Trump has to hide it? Would his tax 
returns show how deeply Donald Trump's personal, financial interests 
run directly counter to the national interests of the United States of 
  It is 8 weeks before a national election. Everyone wants Donald Trump 
to do what other candidates--Republican candidates and Democratic 
candidates--have done and disclose his financial information to the 
American people.
  George W. Bush's IRS Commissioner has said: Trump should release his 
taxes, period.
  The IRS Chief Counsel for Ronald Reagan has said the same thing: 
Trump should release his taxes, period.
  Ted Cruz has released his taxes. John Kasich released his taxes. Jeb 
Bush released his taxes going all the way back to 1981.
  Look, it is no surprise that Trump thinks the rules don't apply to 
him; he never does. But the American people are not going to buy a pig 
in a poke. He should release his taxes voluntarily. But since he will 
not, then we should pass the Presidential Tax Transparency Act and make 
him release those taxes.
  No one knows what he is up to with Russia, Libya, or any other 
country. Let's take a look at his taxes and find out.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BROWN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.