With the new 51-seat majority, Senate Democrats and their independent allies hold subpoena power for their investigations, and they plan to use the powers to probe various topics, especially after the party lost its majority in the House. Here are a few topics Democrats are eyeing to investigate in the Senate.
Former President Donald Trump’s tax returns:
Leaving off where House Democrats began, Democratic senators will look to probe the tax returns of former President Donald Trump.
Trump’s tax returns were handed over to the House Ways and Means Committee on Nov. 30, leaving the committee with just over a month to search through them before Republicans take back control of the chamber and likely shut down the investigation. The tax returns were handed over by the IRS after a Supreme Court ruling in November, following a lengthy legal battle dating back to 2019.
Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee said to the Washington Post that they were “reviewing” their options when the House was given the approval to probe the returns.
Jared Kushner’s business dealings:
Earlier this month, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) jointly announced they were seeking documents from the Pentagon and the State Department regarding Jared Kushner’s “role in foreign policy” while he served as senior adviser to then-President Donald Trump.
While a House investigation will be shut down by the new Republican majority, the Senate is free to continue to dig into Kushner’s dealings. A chief concern for Democrats is a $1.1 billion payment to Kushner Companies from Brookfield Asset Management for a 99-year lease on 666 Fifth Avenue in New York City using “funding from a subsidiary backed by the Government of Qatar,” per the lawmakers. The Qatari-linked investment provided the bailout for the struggling property needed at the time.
The oil industry role in climate change:
In a continuation of the investigation by House Democrats, Senate Democrats will likely look to seek answers on the oil industry’s role in climate change.
The House Oversight Committee released a report last week outlining how the oil industry has little intention of transitioning away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. “The industry has no real plans to clean up its act and is barreling ahead with plans to pump more dirty fuels for decades to come,” Maloney said in a press release about the report.
Senate Democrats will likely look to investigate further how oil companies may be contributing to climate change after the House report.
Big Tech is something both House Republicans and Senate Democrats are expected to open investigations into in the new Congress, but for different reasons.
Democrats are interested in Big Tech’s role in preventing the dissemination of hate speech, misinformation, and disinformation on online platforms and are likely to take a close look at Twitter under Elon Musk’s ownership.
Leaks out of the Supreme Court:
The 2014 leak has been alleged by Rev. Robert Schenck, who claims he received advance notice of the decision in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores case. The majority opinion, which stated religious companies did not have to follow the requirement to cover contraceptive care set by the Affordable Care Act, was written by Justice Samuel Alito.
Alito also was the author of the leaked draft opinion and the released final opinion in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade.
The investigations will counter the topics and focus of the inquiries in the House, which will be at the helm of the new Republican majority. The House GOP is looking to focus its investigations on Hunter Biden, the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the origins of COVID-19, among other topics.