The New York state Senate on Wednesday passed legislation that would give Congress unfettered access to President Trump’s state tax returns.
The bill, which passed 39–21, must now pass the state Assembly before being signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
If passed, the bill would allow the New York commissioner of taxation and finance to provide an individual’s state tax returns to the chairmen of Congress’s tax committees provided they serve a legitimate legislative purpose, and as long as Congress has also requested the individual’s federal tax returns from the Treasury Department.
Democratic lawmakers in New York have argued that they have a unique responsibility to help Congress gain greater insight into Trump’s financial history, since the administration has stonewalled all of Democrats’ requests for his federal returns.
“New York, as the home of the President’s state returns, has a special role and responsibility to step into the breach,” Democratic state senator Brad Hoylman wrote on Twitter ahead of the vote. “Washington has failed to act. We intend to lead.”
New York Republicans, meanwhile, argued that the legislation would compromise the privacy of residents, since it will apply to all New Yorkers, not just public figures.
“This is wrong,” said Republican state senator Andrew Lanza. “I don’t want members of Congress deciding when they can attack citizens of New York.”
Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin on Monday rejected House Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal’s request for Trump’s personal and business tax returns from 2013 through 2018, on the grounds that it does not serve a legitimate legislative purpose. Neal said Wednesday that he will proceed directly to challenging the administration in court, rather than issuing further subpoenas or holding administration members in contempt.
The New York senate also passed legislation cementing state prosecutors’ authority to prosecute individuals who have been granted presidential pardons.