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A memo sent out on July 19 promised to mark all submissions "COMMITTEE CONFIDENTIAL. NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION. DO NOT COPY. These materials may not be released to the public from the National Archives or by the Finance Committee prior to December 31, 2064."
The leaders of the Senate Finance Committee last month asked senators to submit written proposals detailing tax breaks they'd like to see preserved once the tax code is reformed and explain why.
The only way a proposal could be made public before Dec. 31, 2064, is if it "has been modified in such a manner that it could not potentially identify the source of a submission."
The same aide said "the 50-year rule is the practice for all congressional committees and generally covers oversight and investigative materials and related work product, as well as all nomination materials."
That's news to congressional scholar Thomas Mann, who said he's never heard of the practice and said it sounds "gimmicky."
"It's one thing if they wanted to have some closed hearings for a general discussion before proceeding to an open mark-up. That would be constructive," Mann said.
But by treating the proposals as confidential it means a senator can argue for a tax break on paper but then attack it publicly if that suits his political interests.