❮ Return to Our Work

Letter | March 13, 2019

Speaker Pelosi: We Urgently Need Energetic House Ways & Means Committee Oversight

Congressional Oversight

The Honorable Speaker Nancy Pelosi
1236 Longworth H.O.B.
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Speaker Pelosi,

We are writing you as organizations who believe that fairness and equity in both the writing and implementation of tax law is of critical importance. Our commitment to fairness is why we urge you to take every available step to ensure that the House Ways and Means Committee fulfills its Constitutional obligation to provide stringent oversight.

Congress’ oversight authority is broad, encompassing investigation designed to hold both government and corporations accountable. Zealous oversight is how lawmakers learn what laws must be tweaked and what new laws must be drafted. And in the field of tax, the need for reform could not be clearer.

Yet despite the exigency of strong oversight of tax collection, we have watched with growing concern as the Ways and Means Committee has been conspicuously slow to investigate the critical departments and agencies within its jurisdiction. Trump’s Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service are charged with not only the difficult task of fighting “run of the mill” tax avoidance and tax evasion, but also to implement a sweeping new tax law written in considerable haste in late 2017.

Hanging over these complex issues of interpretation and policymaking is the fact that the President and his family have not divested themselves of a sprawling business empire. Additionally, many of the key figures in his administration, such as Jared Kushner, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, retain vast and complex portfolios either personally or within their families.

In other words — even if the Trump Administration were an ordinary presidency, the decaying ability of the IRS to collect revenue owed by the richest individuals and corporations would demand serious attention. And the nature of the Trump tax law and the conflicts of interest which envelop Trump Administration’s senior personnel only serves to deepen the urgency.

Chairman Richard Neal’s term heading the Ways and Means Committee has not commenced in a manner that gives us confidence that under his Chairmanship the Committee is poised to provide the timely and stringent oversight America’s rule-abiding taxpayers deserve. Doing that requires both focusing the work of the entire committee as well as unleashing the Oversight Subcommittee chaired by Congressman John Lewis—including ensuring that the Oversight Subcommittee has adequate resources for vigorous and wide-ranging oversight work.

Because we believe that the Trump Administration’s implementation of its tax collection and tax law interpretation responsibilities cries out for energetic oversight, we ask for you and your leadership team to work with Chairman Neal and the Ways and Means Committee to make sure that the 116th Congress fulfills its Constitutional responsibilities.


cc: Democratic Leadership Team
Clean Elections Texas
Clean Elections Texas Education Fund
Coalition to Preserve, Protect & Defend
Common Cause
CREDO Action
Demand Progress Education Fund
Progressive Change Campaign Committee
Revolving Door Project

Congressional Oversight

More articles by Jeff Hauser

❮ Return to Our Work