GOP Sen. Blocks Voting Rights Bill Requiring Presidents To Release Tax Returns

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Sen. Roy Blunt accused Democrats of attempting to trample states' rights by hijacking the election process.

Democrats brought forth a measure on Wednesday that would beef up Americans’ voting rights and require candidates for president and vice president to disclose their tax returns — but Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) blocked the move.

According to Newsweek, this was Democrats’ second attempt this year to secure a vote on the For the People Act of 2019, which passed the House in March, and the second time Republicans successfully blocked it.

The bill includes several provisions to increase voter participation and increase transparency in elections, such as making Election Day a federal holiday, eliminating “dark money” by requiring super PACs to disclose donor identities, and requiring presidential candidates and their running mates to release ten years’ worth of tax returns.

"The For the People Act repairs our broken campaign finance system, opens up the ballot box to all Americans, and lays waste to the corruption in Washington," said Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), who sought a vote on the measure this week. "These are all reforms that the American people support. Why won't the Senate Majority Leader let us vote on them?"

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has described the bill as a “one-sided power grab” by Democrats that represents the "far left's entire Christmas wish list where our nation's political process is concerned."

"For months, Senator McConnell has refused to take up this bill. Campaign finance reform, gerrymandering, the right to vote, ethics in government, and foreign interference in our elections are all part of this timely and badly needed package of reforms," said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President for Policy and Program of People For the American Way. "By blocking a motion by Senate Democrats to bring it to the floor, Mitch McConnell has signaled yet again that his true allegiances lie elsewhere, not with the American people."

Proponents of the bill have said Republicans’ moves to block a vote on it are emblematic of a “corrupt system” controlled by “powerful special interests.”

Blunt countered by saying Democrats are trying to steal power from the states: "Apparently the powerful special interests that my friend [Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR)] talked about are the state governments.”

The tax return requirement continues to be a major sticking point for Republicans. At present, it is the norm for candidates to release their financial records, but President Donald Trump bucked that norm in 2016 and has yet to produce his tax returns.

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