In the PBS NewsHour's December 20, 2022 video WATCH LIVE: House committee votes on release of Trump's tax returns it appears, if I understand correctly, that there were no objections heard to making certain proceedings of the United States House Committee on Ways and Means publicly available, and that these proceedings contain several years of the former US president's US tax returns.

According to Wikipedia, the makeup of the members of the House Ways and Means Committee in the 117th Congress includes well over a dozen Republicans.

I was surprised and confused to hear that despite the widely cited quote

“Let me be clear: Our concern is not whether the president should have made his tax returns public, as is traditional, nor about the accuracy of his tax returns,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) said Tuesday shortly before the Ways and Means Committee meeting began. “Our concern is that, if taken, this committee action will set a terrible precedent that unleashes a dangerous new political weapon that reaches far beyond the former president."

(Washington Post December 20, 2022 Trump’s tax returns could be made public, pending House committee vote)

there were in fact no objections - again if I am in fact understanding this correctly.

Why not?

Question: Why were there no objections to the public release of the former US president's tax records at the House Ways and Means Committee meeting?

  • 2
    My question is based on the title of the video "House committee votes on release of Trump's tax returns" I think the pile-on punitive down votes are not the best way to proceed for a good faith, best effort question.
    – uhoh
    Dec 21, 2022 at 0:34
  • 3
    Relevant to the question, after deliberating in a closed session there was then an affirmative vote to release the tax returns. cnn.com/2022/12/20/politics/house-trump-tax-returns/index.html "The panel approved a motion on a party-line vote to release the materials to the House, clearing the way for Trump’s tax returns to be released publicly."
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 21, 2022 at 1:46
  • 2
    @uhoh I feel for you, the downvotes are probably from people that think his tax returns shouldn't be released, which is not at all what you are suggesting, or even asking. Or vice-versa. That's just wrong. It's a reasonable question, I upvoted that and the great answer.
    – J. Gwinner
    Dec 22, 2022 at 0:53

1 Answer 1


Why were there no objections to the public release of the former US president's tax records at the House Ways and Means Committee meeting?

That was not the motion. The motion was to proceed to executive session (a private meeting). No one had any objections with changing the public meeting to a private one. The private meeting is (maybe) where they're considering releasing the records, they may wish to debate amongst themselves about the specifics of what is contained within Trump's returns. It wouldn't do any good if the majority of the committee voted to not release the records if they've already discussed a lot of the salient information in a public forum.

This is the text of the House Rule that Chairman Neal was referencing (Rule XI, Clause 2, (g)(1)):

Each meeting for the transaction of business, including the markup of legislation, by a standing committee or subcommittee thereof (other than the Committee on Ethics or its subcommittees) shall be open to the public, including to radio, television, and still photography coverage, except when the committee or subcommittee, in open session and with a majority present, determines by record vote that all or part of the remainder of the meeting on that day shall be in executive session because disclosure of matters to be considered would endanger national security, would compromise sensitive law enforcement information, would tend to defame, degrade, or incriminate any person, or otherwise would violate a law or rule of the House. Persons, other than members of the committee and such noncommittee Members, Delegates, Resident Commissioner, congressional staff, or departmental representatives as the committee may authorize, may not be present at a business or markup session that is held in executive session. This subparagraph does not apply to open committee hearings, which are governed by clause 4(a)(1) of rule X or by subparagraph (2).

Source (US Government Website, see Page 18, center column under the heading "Open meetings and hearings")

  • 2
    So the title of the video "House committee votes on release of Trump's tax returns" is misleading to say the least?
    – uhoh
    Dec 21, 2022 at 0:36
  • 7
    @uhoh Maybe, depends on your perspective. I think it was pretty clear what the actual purpose of the meeting is for, and no one on the committee thought it pertinent to inform PBS News Hour that they just intended to make the meeting private.
    – user5155
    Dec 21, 2022 at 0:39
  • 3
    (It's one of the downsides of Live TV, there's no re-takes)
    – user5155
    Dec 21, 2022 at 0:40
  • 5
    @uhoh Well, not at least misleading, no, if you consider the context. As it was a live broadcast, the title was written before or as the meeting started. It might have been better to write, "House committee meets to vote on release of Trump's tax returns," but the current one is not an unreasonable shortening of that given that's exactly what they expected to see. And what they would have seen, had the meeting not moved to a closed session. (That was correct, IMHO, and they did agree to release the non-confidential portion of their minutes when they're done.)
    – cjs
    Dec 21, 2022 at 1:35

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