Congress Introduces Bill for Financial Disclosure in Presidential Trade Deals. Republicans Run Away.

Two bills to stop presidential corruption in foreign deals; not a single Republican member of Congress supports them

Like him or not, the President of the United States is a pretty big deal.

He (or someday, perhaps, she) has considerable power to influence economic relations with other nations. Presidents can modify tariffs to raise or lower to price of goods from particular nations. Presidents can negotiate trade, investment and foreign aid pacts that reward or punish nations and the enterprises that operate within them. The President of the United States can make fortunes and break fortunes with the stroke of a pen.

Despite this, a president is not a king, and must be answerable for his or her actions to the coequal legislative and judicial branches of American government. A president who corruptly alters economic deals with other nations to enrich himself or herself must also be answerable to the people of the United States. In a representative democracy, a president who can use the levers of power for personal enrichment is not to simply be trusted. Secrecy is power for the president. Knowledge is power for the people.

In order to enable presidential transparency and accountability, 45 members of Congress have introduced the Presidential Trade Transparency Act (H.R. 1172 in the House of Representatives, S. 408 in the Senate).  This bill requires the President of the United States to disclose personal assets, debts and income associated with a nation when making economic policy decisions pertaining to that nation. If the Presidential Trade Transparency Act is passed, such information must be reported to Congress in a timely manner when a President takes policy action that economically rewards or harms a nation and the economic interests within it.

If on the other hand the Presidential Trade Transparency Act is not passed, a President will be able to secretly benefit from making deals using the immense power of the White House. Before the presidency of Donald Trump, this was not an issue, because presidents as a matter of understood practice both released their tax returns and divested themselves of their known businesses, placing whatever wealth they had in a blind trust for the duration of their term in office.  President Donald Trump has rejected these ethical standards and has refused to take any of these ethical steps. Without this law, under the likes of Donald Trump presidential corruption in international trade will go undetected and unchecked.

It is therefore worth noting not only who has cosponsored these bills, but who has not.  Below you will see a list of 45 members of Congress who have cosponsored the Presidential Trade Transparency Act as of February 19, 2017.  You won’t find a single Republican member of Congress among them.  For Republicans in Congress, corruption is simply not an issue of concern.

Cosponsors of the Presidential Trade Transparency Act, S. 408, in the U.S. Senate:

Sen. Blumenthal, Richard [D-CT]
Sen. Brown, Sherrod [D-OH]
Sen. Cardin, Benjamin L. [D-MD]
Sen. Casey, Robert P., Jr. [D-PA]
Sen. Feinstein, Dianne [D-CA]
Sen. Leahy, Patrick J. [D-VT]
Sen. McCaskill, Claire [D-MO]
Sen. Menendez, Robert [D-NJ]
Sen. Reed, Jack [D-RI]
Sen. Schumer, Charles E. [D-NY]
Sen. Stabenow, Debbie [D-MI]
Sen. Van Hollen, Chris [D-MD]
Sen. Warren, Elizabeth [D-MA]
Sen. Wyden, Ron [D-MA]

Cosponsors of the Presidential Trade Transparency Act, H.R. 1172, in the U.S. House of Representatives:

Rep. Blumenauer, Earl [D-OR-3]
Rep. Bonamici, Suzanne [D-OR-1]
Rep. Chu, Judy [D-CA-27]
Rep. Cicilline, David N. [D-RI-1]
Rep. Crowley, Joseph [D-NY-14]
Rep. Davis, Danny [D-IL-7]
Rep. Davis, Susan [D-CA-53]
Rep. DeLauro, Rosa [D-CT-3]
Rep. DelBene, Suzan [D-WA-1]
Rep. DeSaulnier, Mark [D-CA-11]
Rep. Doggett, Lloyd [D-TX-35]
Rep. Ellison, Keith [D-MN-5]
Rep. Higgins, Brian [D-NY-26]
Rep. Himes, James [D-CT-4]
Rep. Kaptur, Marcy [D-OH-9]
Rep. Kind, Ron [D-WI-3]
Rep. Larson, John [D-CT-1]
Rep. Levin, Sander [D-MI-9]
Rep. Lewis, John [D-GA-5]
Rep. Nadler, Jerrold [D-NY-10]
Rep. Neal, Richard [D-MA-1]
Rep. Pascrell, Bill, Jr. [D-NJ-9]
Rep. Pocan, Mark [D-WI-2]
Rep. Polis, Jared [D-CO-2]
Rep. Sanchez, Linda [D-CA-38]
Rep. Scott, Bobby [D-VA-3]
Rep. Sewell, Terri A. [D-AL-7]
Rep. Slaughter, Louise McIntosh [D-NY-25]
Rep. Thompson, Mike [D-CA-5]
Rep. Tsongas, Niki [D-MA-3]
Rep. Waters, Maxine [D-CA-43]