On Wednesday, House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) announced that Republicans will introduce an appropriations bill next week that couples continued funding for the Internal Revenue Service with key accountability measures designed to rein in abuses within the scandal-ridden federal tax collection agency.
“As you know, the House holds the purse strings,” the highest ranking Republican woman in Congress said Wednesday afternoon on a conference call with reporters from new media along with Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Penn.).
McMorris Rodgers revealed that next week House Republicans will move forward the appropriations bill containing appropriations for IRS, and that the measure will also place some restrictions on how the IRS can use its funds.
Among the accountability provisions mentioned were a prohibition on the IRS’ implementation of proposed regulation changes for 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. The bill would also ban the IRS from using funds for activities that curb first amendment-protected activities, as well as restrain the agency from ever again spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars in the production of truly awful employee training videos.
Both representatives expressed that the failure of the IRS and the Obama administration to address the agency’s problems has necessitated congressional action.
McMorris Rodgers remarked that the IRS is able to “demand compliance from moms, dads and small businesses, and [their failure to comply with the congressional investigation] is just wrong.”
“There’s still a huge amount of concern among the American people that we are not getting all of the answers,” said Gerlach.
Gerlach added that because of the absence of cooperation from the IRS and a lack of action from the Office of the Inspector General and the Department of Justice, the Obama administration has “left the American people in a position where they simply don’t believe the President on this issue.”
It is very likely that such a measure will pass the House. It is just as probable that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s reflex will be to drop it into a deep, dark desk drawer, never to be seen again.
Ironically, the frustrating Democratic strategy of forcing continuing resolutions for funding the government may ultimately give Republicans the leverage they need.
If Republicans can isolate appropriations for the most-hated federal agency, Democrats could be forced in September to argue against making a rogue agency accountable.
Unlike in the last shutdown standoff, threatening to have the IRS go dark is unlikely to generate much public sympathy to elevate the Democratic position in negotiations.
And all just in time for critical midterm elections in which Democrats are desperately hoping to hang on to Senate.