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Congressional Record2017/03/28Senate | House | Extensions

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[Pages H2501-H2503]
From the Congressional Record Online through GPO




           RAISING A QUESTION OF THE PRIVILEGES OF THE HOUSE

Ms. LOFGREN. Mr. Speaker, I rise to a question of the privileges of the House, and offer the resolution that was previously noticed.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Clerk will report the resolution.

The Clerk read as follows: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the President shall immediately disclose his tax return information to Congress and the American people. Whereas, the Emoluments Clause was included in the U.S. Constitution for the express purpose of preventing federal officials from accepting any “present, Emolument, Office, or Title . . . from any King, Prince, or foreign State”; Whereas, in Federalist No. 22 (Alexander Hamilton) it is said, “One of the weak sides of republics, among their numerous advantages, is that they afford too easy an inlet to foreign corruption,” and; Whereas, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention specifically designed the Emoluments Clause as an antidote to potentially corrupting foreign practices of a kind that the Framers had observed during the period of the Confederation, and; Whereas, Article 1, section 9, clause 8 of the Constitution states: “no person holding any office of profit or trust . . . shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State”, and; Whereas, in 2009, the Office of Legal Counsel clarified that corporations owned or controlled by foreign governments presumptively qualify as foreign States under the foreign Emoluments Clause, and; Whereas, the word “emoluments” means profit, salary, fees, or compensation which would include direct payment, as well as other benefits, including extension of credit, forgiveness of debt, or the granting of rights of pecuniary value, and; Whereas, according to The New Yorker, in 2012, The Trump Organization entered into a deal with Ziya Mammadov to build the Trump Tower Baku in the notoriously corrupt country Azerbaijan in possible violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and, by profiting from business with the Mammadov family, due to their financial entanglements with the Iran Revolutionary Guard may have also violated the Emoluments Clause if income from this project continues to flow to The Trump Organization, and; Whereas, The Trump Organization has deals in Turkey, admitted by the President himself during a 2015 Brietbart interview, and when the President announced his travel ban, Turkey's President called for President Trump's name to be removed from Trump Towers Istanbul, according to The Wall Street Journal, and President Trump's company is currently involved in major licensing deals for that property which may implicate the Emoluments Clause, and; Whereas, shortly after election, the President met with the former U.K. Independence Party leader, Nigel Farage, to get help to stop obstructions of the view from one of his golf resorts in Scotland, and according to The New York Times, both of the resorts he owns there are promoted by Scotland's official tourism agency, a benefit that may violate the Emoluments Clause, and; Whereas, at Trump Tower in New York, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is a large tenant, according to Bloomberg; the United Arab Emirates leases space, according to the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority; and the Saudi Mission to the U.N. makes annual payments, according to the New York Daily News, and money from these foreign countries goes to the President, and; Whereas, according to NPR, in February China gave provisional approval for 38 new trademarks for The Trump Organization, which have been sought for a decade to no avail, until President Trump won the election. This is a benefit the Chinese Government gave to the President's businesses in possible violation of the Emoluments Clause, and; Whereas, the President is part owner of a New York building carrying a $950 million loan, partially held by the Bank of China, according to The New York Times, when owing the Government of China by the extension of loans and credits by a foreign State to an officer of the United States would violate the Emoluments Clause, and; Whereas, NPR reported that the Embassy of Kuwait held its 600 guest National Day celebration at Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., last month, proceeds to Trump, and; Whereas, according to The Washington Post, the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., has hired a “director of diplomatic sales” to generate high-priced business among foreign leaders and diplomatic delegations, and; Whereas, according to his 2016 candidate filing with the Federal Election Commission, the President has 564 financial positions in [[Page H2502]] companies located in the United States and around the world, and; Whereas, against the advice of ethics attorneys and the Office of Government Ethics, the President has refused to divest his ownership stake in his businesses, and; Whereas, the Director of the nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics said that the President's plan to transfer his business holdings to a trust managed by family members is “meaningless” and “does not meet the standards that . . . every President in the past four decades has met”, and; Whereas, in the United States' system of checks and balances, Congress has a responsibility to hold the executive branch of government to the highest standard of transparency to ensure the public interest is placed first and the Constitution is adhered to, and; Whereas, the House Judiciary Committee has the first responsibility among the committees of the House to see that elements of our Constitution are adhered to and, in furtherance of that responsibility, Judiciary Committee members have historically utilized fact-finding and research prior to formal hearings, and; Whereas, tax returns provide an important baseline disclosure because they contain highly instructive information including whether the filer paid taxes, what they own, what they have borrowed and from whom, whether they have made any charitable donations, and whether they have taken advantage of tax loopholes and that such information would be material to members of the Judiciary Committee as research is undertaken on whether President Trump is in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, and; Whereas, disclosure of the President's tax returns would be an effective means for the President to provide evidence either refuting or confirming claims of violations of the Emoluments Clause, and; Whereas, the President's tax returns are likely to be essential as members of the Judiciary Committee work to research potential violations of the Emoluments Clause, and; Whereas, the chairmen of the Ways and Means Committee, Joint Committee on Taxation, and Senate Finance Committee have the authority to request the President's tax returns under section 6103 of the Tax Code, and this power is an essential tool in learning whether the President may be in violation of the Emoluments Clause, and; Whereas, questions involving constitutional functions and the House's constitutionally granted powers have been recognized as valid questions of the privileges of the House. Resolved, That the House of Representatives shall-- 1. Immediately request the tax return information of Donald J. Trump for tax years 2000 through 2015 for review by Congress, as part of a determination as to whether the President is in violation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. {time} 1715

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Does the gentlewoman from California wish to present argument on the parliamentary question of whether the resolution presents a question of the privileges of the House?

Ms. LOFGREN. I do, Mr. Speaker.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The remarks of the gentlewoman must be confined to the question of whether the resolution presents a question of the privileges of the House.

The gentlewoman from California is recognized.

Ms. LOFGREN. Mr. Speaker, under clause 1 of rule IX, questions of the privileges of the House are: “those affecting the rights of the House collectively, its safety, dignity, and the integrity of its proceedings.”

The dignity and integrity of the House's proceedings have been violated, and continue to be violated, because Congress has not had the constitutionally afforded opportunity to consent to emoluments being received by the President or to enforce, if consent is not given.

I would note that Congress has the authority to request the President's taxes under section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code, and use of this authority would not be unprecedented, as it was used in 1974 to request President Nixon's tax returns that revealed that he owed nearly half a million dollars in back taxes.

I would note that issues of the Constitution and the House's prerogatives under the Constitution have a precedent in using rule IX as a privileged resolution.

For example, if a revenue measure is initiated in the Senate instead of in the House as required by the Constitution, that is a matter of a privilege of the House. I would argue that the Emoluments Clause is at least as important, possibly more important, than the origination of a revenue measure in either the House or Senate.

I have been a member of the Judiciary Committee for 22 years. I am well aware of how the Judiciary Committee operates and the need for individual Members to do research before any official action is taken in that committee. And since it is the Judiciary Committee, it has the first responsibility for adhering to the Constitution among the committees of the House. I think it is absolutely essential for the President's tax returns to be released so that the members of the Judiciary Committee can do their job to research whether the Emoluments Clause has been violated and whether permission should be given to the President to receive payments from foreign states.

I would note that there is no question that the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution was placed there to prevent corruption in the system. It was based on a sad experience during the Articles of Confederation. It is necessary to make sure that the President and all other officers of the United States have loyalty to only one thing, and that is to the United States of America, not to any foreign power.

In order to do that, we need to review the data. As I say, the dignity and integrity of the House requires that the Constitution be upheld, and in order to uphold the Constitution, we must have this information.

For these reasons, the resolution raises a question of the privileges of the House and should be permitted, Mr. Speaker.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentlewoman from California seeks to offer a resolution as a question of the privileges of the House under rule IX.

In evaluating the resolution under rule IX, the Chair must determine whether the resolution affects “the rights of the House collectively, its safety, dignity, and the integrity of its proceedings.”

The resolution offered by the gentlewoman from California directs the House to request the President's tax return information as part of a determination as to whether the President is in violation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.

Section 702 of the House Rules and Manual states that “rule IX is concerned not with the privileges of the Congress, as a legislative branch, but only with the privileges of the House, as a House.” As such, reviews of extramural activities, even with regard to constitutional prerogatives, have not met the standards of rule IX.

The Chair would also cite the proceedings of May 21, 2009. On that date, a resolution proposing a review of the accuracy of certain public statements made by the Speaker regarding communications to Congress from the executive branch was held not to qualify as a question of privilege, because it necessarily would have required a review not only of the Speaker's statements but also of actions by extramural actors in the executive branch.

The resolution offered by the gentlewoman from California does not invoke a unique prerogative of the House, as a House. Instead, it seeks documents from the President, an actor entirely extramural to the House. Accordingly, the resolution does not qualify as a question of the privileges of the House.

Ms. LOFGREN. Mr. Speaker, I appeal that ruling.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is, Shall the decision of the Chair stand as the judgment of the House? Motion to Table

Mr. FLORES. Mr. Speaker, I have a motion at the desk.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Clerk will report the motion.

The Clerk read as follows: Mr. Flores of Texas moves to lay the appeal on the table.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion to table.

The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that the ayes appeared to have it.

Ms. LOFGREN. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.

The yeas and nays were ordered.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, this 15- minute vote on the motion to table will be followed by a 5-minute vote on passage of S.J. Res. 34.

The vote was taken by electronic device, and there were--yeas 228, nays 190, answered “present” 2, not voting 9, as follows: [[Page H2503]] [Roll No. 201] YEAS--228 Abraham Aderholt Allen Amash Amodei Arrington Babin Bacon Banks (IN) Barletta Barr Barton Bergman Biggs Bilirakis Bishop (MI) Bishop (UT) Black Blackburn Blum Bost Brady (TX) Brat Bridenstine Brooks (AL) Brooks (IN) Buchanan Buck Bucshon Budd Burgess Byrne Calvert Carter (GA) Carter (TX) Chabot Chaffetz Cheney Coffman Cole Collins (GA) Collins (NY) Comer Comstock Conaway Cook Costello (PA) Cramer Crawford Culberson Curbelo (FL) Davidson Davis, Rodney Denham Dent DeSantis DesJarlais Diaz-Balart Donovan Duncan (SC) Duncan (TN) Dunn Emmer Farenthold Faso Ferguson Fitzpatrick Fleischmann Flores Fortenberry Foxx Franks (AZ) Frelinghuysen Gaetz Gallagher Garrett Gibbs Gohmert Goodlatte Gosar Gowdy Granger Graves (GA) Graves (LA) Graves (MO) Griffith Grothman Guthrie Harper Harris Hartzler Hensarling Herrera Beutler Hice, Jody B. Higgins (LA) Hill Holding Hollingsworth Hudson Huizenga Hultgren Hunter Hurd Issa Jenkins (KS) Jenkins (WV) Johnson (LA) Johnson (OH) Johnson, Sam Jordan Joyce (OH) Katko Kelly (MS) Kelly (PA) King (IA) King (NY) Kinzinger Knight Kustoff (TN) Labrador LaHood LaMalfa Lamborn Lance Latta Lewis (MN) LoBiondo Long Loudermilk Love Lucas Luetkemeyer MacArthur Marchant Marshall Massie Mast McCarthy McCaul McClintock McHenry McKinley McMorris Rodgers McSally Meadows Meehan Messer Mitchell Moolenaar Mooney (WV) Mullin Murphy (PA) Newhouse Noem Nunes Olson Palazzo Palmer Paulsen Pearce Perry Poe (TX) Poliquin Ratcliffe Reed Reichert Renacci Rice (SC) Roby Roe (TN) Rogers (AL) Rogers (KY) Rohrabacher Rokita Rooney, Francis Rooney, Thomas J. Roskam Ross Rothfus Rouzer Royce (CA) Russell Rutherford Scalise Schweikert Scott, Austin Sensenbrenner Sessions Shimkus Shuster Smith (MO) Smith (NE) Smith (NJ) Smith (TX) Smucker Stefanik Stewart Stivers Taylor Tenney Thompson (PA) Thornberry Tiberi Tipton Trott Turner Upton Valadao Wagner Walberg Walden Walker Walorski Walters, Mimi Weber (TX) Webster (FL) Wenstrup Westerman Williams Wilson (SC) Wittman Womack Woodall Yoder Yoho Young (AK) Young (IA) Zeldin NAYS--190 Adams Aguilar Barragan Bass Beatty Bera Beyer Bishop (GA) Blumenauer Blunt Rochester Bonamici Boyle, Brendan F. Brady (PA) Brown (MD) Brownley (CA) Bustos Butterfield Capuano Carbajal Cardenas Carson (IN) Cartwright Castor (FL) Castro (TX) Chu, Judy Cicilline Clark (MA) Clarke (NY) Clay Cleaver Clyburn Cohen Connolly Conyers Cooper Correa Costa Courtney Crist Crowley Cuellar Cummings Davis (CA) Davis, Danny DeGette Delaney DeLauro DelBene Demings DeSaulnier Deutch Dingell Doggett Doyle, Michael F. Ellison Engel Eshoo Espaillat Esty Evans Foster Frankel (FL) Fudge Gabbard Gallego Garamendi Gonzalez (TX) Gottheimer Green, Al Green, Gene Grijalva Gutierrez Hanabusa Hastings Heck Higgins (NY) Himes Hoyer Huffman Jackson Lee Jayapal Jeffries Johnson (GA) Johnson, E. B. Jones Kaptur Keating Kelly (IL) Kennedy Khanna Kihuen Kildee Kilmer Kind Krishnamoorthi Kuster (NH) Langevin Larsen (WA) Larson (CT) Lawrence Lawson (FL) Lee Levin Lewis (GA) Lieu, Ted Lipinski Loebsack Lofgren Lowenthal Lowey Lujan Grisham, M. Lujan, Ben Ray Lynch Maloney, Carolyn B. Maloney, Sean Matsui McCollum McEachin McGovern McNerney Meeks Meng Moore Moulton Murphy (FL) Nadler Napolitano Neal Norcross O'Halleran O'Rourke Pallone Panetta Pascrell Payne Pelosi Perlmutter Peters Peterson Pingree Pocan Polis Price (NC) Quigley Raskin Rice (NY) Richmond Rosen Roybal-Allard Ruiz Ruppersberger Ryan (OH) Sanchez Sarbanes Schakowsky Schiff Schneider Schrader Scott (VA) Scott, David Serrano Sewell (AL) Shea-Porter Sherman Sinema Sires Smith (WA) Soto Speier Suozzi Swalwell (CA) Takano Thompson (CA) Thompson (MS) Titus Tonko Torres Tsongas Vargas Veasey Vela Velazquez Visclosky Walz Wasserman Schultz Waters, Maxine Watson Coleman Welch Wilson (FL) Yarmuth ANSWERED “PRESENT”--2 DeFazio Sanford NOT VOTING--9 Duffy Marino Nolan Pittenger Posey Ros-Lehtinen Rush Simpson Slaughter {time} 1748

Mr. O'HALLERAN changed his vote from “yea” to “nay.”

So the motion to table was agreed to.

The result of the vote was announced as above recorded.

A motion to reconsider was laid on the table. ____________________



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