They almost got away with it: GOP embarrassed by tax returns measure
Congress passed legislation Saturday giving two committee chairman and their assistants access to income tax returns without regard to privacy protections, but not before red-faced Republicans said the measure was a mistake and would be swiftly repealed.
Some Democrats didn't accept the assertion that the provision was a mistake and demanded an investigation.
“We weren't born yesterday, we didn't come down with the first snow,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California. “This isn't poorly thought out, this was very deliberately thought out and it was done in the dead of night.”
Members of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee now have limited access to tax returns, but there are severe criminal and civil penalties if the information is disclosed or misused.
Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said the measure will “bring us back to the doorstep to the days of President Nixon, President Truman and other dark days in our history when taxpayer information was used against political enemies.”
The dead-of-night amendment was inserted by Rep. Istook. I look forward to his explanation, which will probably be he was just a conduit, never read it, etc etc. It's usually better to look dumb than criminal. See, e.g., Bush. But see DeLay.