The hearing was part of House Democrats' effort to push an ethics legislation, which would require presidents and vice presidents as well as candidates for those posts to release their tax returns in previous 10 years.
Democrats have contended they are merely exercising their responsibilities of congressional oversight after a period of limited scrutiny while the House was under Republican control.
Democratic committee member Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin said there will be no rush, either.
"I am concerned that it may be completely broken", said Thorndike, adding "Then we can't really rely on a tradition to get the job done".
Traditionally, presidential candidates publicly release their tax returns as a show of transparency, but it is not required. Trump is being squeezed by Mueller's probe, by federal prosecutors in NY looking into his inaugural spending, and by other House probes into possible ties with Russians during the campaign.
In early 2016, Trump said he'd release the returns after a federal audit was complete. President Jimmy Carter disclosed "full" returns.
The practice of unilaterally releasing tax returns would set a risky precedent eroding our most basic privacy rights. The law states that the chairmen of the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means committee each have the power to request taxpayer information and states that "the secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request".
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Pascrell was referring to a 1924 law that allows the chairs of Congress's tax committees to look into anyone's confidential returns. Trump took great umbrage at the announcement, lashing out at Schiff and calling him a, "political hack". "The law is on our side". If the administration balks, Democrats may end up taking the issue to court.
The issue comes to the fore in a hearing Thursday by the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee. The sluggish process - delayed by the five-week partial government shutdown and Neal's desire to carefully craft a legal argument - is making some anxious to move ahead. What about the tax returns of the speaker? Those groups say their push has spurred 7,500 calls to members of Congress. "Because if Democrats or any party can abuse their power to rummage through the tax returns of the president, what will stop them from abusing that power in the future frankly to target any individual American that they see as a political enemy?"
The Democratic lawmakers faced stiff objections from congressional Republicans, who accused them of seeking to violate Trump's privacy, setting a risky precedent for political retribution and abusing the power laid out in the law.
A refusal to provide the tax returns would be "uncharted territory", said George K. Yin, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law and former chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation. A full-blown fight over the matter could derail Neal's other priorities, such as reducing prescription drug prices, overhauling retirement plans and rolling back some of the Republican tax cuts.
Democrats need to decide how to justify seeking Trump's returns, and some lawmaker comments on Thursday appeared to bolster an option being considered that would place such an action within established congressional authority to oversee the IRS.
Four Trump administration sources have told Politico that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin could block the tax returns' release on the grounds that Democrats would be unable to prevent someone from leaking them, which would be a felony. The reason for this is simple: Congressional Republicans do not want another shutdown, and they do not want Trump to declare a national emergency, because both options put them in a frightful position. "Every single American has the right to privacy".
Cuellar said there's been discussion of replacing existing fencing, and that he also supports new and improved levee walls with metal bollards on top that are used in some places.