House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats argued their case for a discharge petition Wednesday, a process by which legislation can skip committee and move straight to the House floor if a majority of the House supports it.
If passed, the legislation would require Trump and any presidents after him to release their tax returns going forward.
Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo of California proposed the petition, which needs 218 signatures to pass and thus would require the support of more than 20 Republican members in addition to every Democrat -- an extremely tall order for the hyperpartisan status of Congress.
But Richard Neal, a Democrat from Massachusetts and ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee, said the petition has bipartisan interest.
"It's not partisan," Neal said. "If Barack Obama or Bill Clinton did not release their tax returns, there would've been a storm on the side demanding those tax returns."
Trump has in the past promised to release his tax returns upon conclusion of an audit into his finances, but the White House has not specified when that would be. When MSNBC's Rachel Maddow said she had gotten her hands on a summary of Trump's 2005 tax returns, the White House confirmed Trump made more than $150 million and had paid $38 million in taxes. More recently, Trump aides have suggested that since he won the election, he would not release his returns.
Pelosi, a California Democrat, said Trump's choices on foreign policy and trade relations could be impacted by his business connections to foreign governments
, such as Russia and China. Such a problem has prompted an interest among Democrats to gain clarity on Trump's business ties overseas.
"It's the President of the United States. There is a question about a Russia connection — politically, financially, personally," Pelosi said, referring to Russia's role in the 2016 campaign. "It isn't as if the tax returns tell the whole story, but they are a key that opens the door to so much information."
Pelosi also said that Trump's refusal to release his tax returns has reflected badly on his Republican defenders.
"He holds himself to very low standards. And he's making a fool of his friends," she said.