• Home
  • Politics
  • Congress aims to overhaul presidential ethics rules with bipartisan legislation
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Congress aims to overhaul presidential ethics rules with bipartisan legislation

In a rare bipartisan effort, Congress introduced legislation on Wednesday aimed at overhauling presidential ethics rules. Led by Republican Rep. James Comer and Democratic Rep. Katie Porter, the proposal mandates that presidents and vice presidents publicly disclose their tax returns before, during, and after their tenure. This move seeks to curb foreign influence in American politics and enhance congressional oversight of presidential ethics.

The bill coincides with rival legislation from Democrats to enforce the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bars presidents from accepting foreign gifts and money without congressional consent. Proponents argue that former President Donald Trump violated this clause by allowing foreign officials to patronize his hotels and properties.

These competing bills reflect a bipartisan desire to reform presidential ethics rules, though they are deeply intertwined with partisan disputes over Trump and President Joe Biden. The White House stated on Wednesday that Biden has already complied with many provisions of the proposed legislation and reaffirmed his commitment to strong ethical standards.

The Comer-Porter proposal emphasizes transparency, requiring presidents and vice presidents to disclose foreign payments, gifts, and loans made to their immediate family members. It also mandates reporting when family members accompany them on official travel for business purposes, addressing concerns about the business dealings of Trump’s children and Biden’s son.

Trump and Biden have approached financial disclosures differently. Trump consistently refused to share details about his financial history, contrary to the transparency practiced by his predecessors post-Watergate. Biden has routinely released his annual returns.

For the past 17 months, GOP lawmakers led by Comer have claimed that the Biden family has traded on the president’s name, citing phone calls and meetings between Biden and his son Hunter’s business associates. They have released records showing that from 2014 to 2019, Biden family members received over $15 million from foreign entities. Republicans have also criticized loans from Democratic donors to Biden’s family, including over $6 million from entertainment attorney Kevin Morris to Hunter Biden. However, they have not produced evidence showing Joe Biden’s direct involvement or benefit from these businesses.

Conversely, a January report from committee Democrats revealed that Trump’s businesses received nearly $8 million from 20 foreign governments during his presidency, highlighting how foreign entities poured millions into Trump properties, including hotels in Washington, D.C., and Las Vegas. Ethics lawyers criticized Trump’s decision to retain his business empire while in office, arguing it allowed foreign entities to curry favor with him.

Trump and his legal team have defended against these claims, asserting that the emoluments clauses were misinterpreted and were not intended to cover fair-value transactions between businesses and customers.


Join Our Mailing List

Recent Articles

Hey! Are you enjoying NYCTastemakers? Make sure to join our mailing list for NYCTM and never miss the chance to read all of our articles!