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News / Politics

Congress aims to overhaul presidential ethics rules

Legislation would require disclosure of tax returns, more

By FARNOUSH AMIRI, Associated Press
Published: May 22, 2024, 4:30pm
2 Photos
Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., Rep.
Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., Rep. James Comer, R-Ky. Photo Gallery

WASHINGTON — Bipartisan legislation introduced in the House on Wednesday would require presidents and vice presidents to publicly disclose tax returns before, during and after their time in the White House as Congress makes an election-year push to curb foreign influence in American politics.

The proposal, led by Republican Rep. James Comer and progressive Democratic Rep. Katie Porter, is the latest effort to bolster congressional oversight of presidential ethics as both parties grapple with congressional investigations into their leading candidates for the White House.

Democrats on Tuesday introduced rival legislation that would enforce the Constitution’s ban on emoluments, which prohibits a president from accepting foreign gifts and money without the permission of Congress. Proponents of that proposal say Republican Donald Trump brazenly ignored the clause while president as foreign government officials flocked to his various hotels and properties.

The release of the dueling bills suggests bipartisan appetite in Congress for revising presidential ethics rules. But those proposals are intertwined with fiercely partisan fights about the conduct of Trump and Democratic President Joe Biden, and it remains to be seen whether any bill can make it through the House, let alone become law.

The White House said in a statement Wednesday that Biden has already complied with many of the provisions laid out in the legislation and “made clear his commitment to upholding strong ethical standards.”

The proposal from Comer, R-Ky., and Porter, D-Calif., is focused on greater transparency and requires the disclosure of foreign payments, gifts and loans made to officials’ immediate family members. Presidents and vice presidents would be required to disclose when immediate family members accompany them on official travel and specify when they do so for official business purposes. The provisions are a direct response to concerns surrounding the business dealings of Trump’s children and Biden’s son.