D.C. was rocked last week by the news that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had targeted certain conservative groups for closer scrutiny when they applied for non-profit status. Hearings got underway quickly, and they are sure to continue.
A number of bills were introduced. Wakerider bills, we like to call them, because they surf the news. But surf’s up! So let’s see what is in the hopper.
H.R. 1950 is called the Taxpayer Nondiscrimination & Protection Act of 2013. Introduced by Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH), it would create criminal penalties for “misconduct against taxpayers by Internal Revenue Service employees,” such as violating their First Amendment rights.
H.R. 2025 would require the termination of IRS employees for discriminating against any taxpayer on the basis of political affiliation. It was introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) with one cosponsor, fellow Arizonan Rep. Matt Salmon (R).
Then, of course, there was the news that the IRS official in charge of the office reviewing tax-exempt organizations for part of the time that it was allegedly doing partisan reviews is now in charge of the office implementing Obamacare. It’s a gift to Republicans, who had already scheduled a vote to repeal Obamacare last week.
New bills emphasizing this theme include:
H.R. 1993, which would prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from hiring new employees to enforce “the Federal Government’s invasion into the health care lives of American citizens.” It’s the brainchild of Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA).
Similar bill H.R. 2022 would prohibit the implementation or enforcement of any requirement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act until certifications are made that taxpayer information is not and will not be used for targeting any individual or group that provides information to the Internal Revenue Service for political reasons or on the basis of political views. The bill’s sponsor is Rep. Diane Black (R) from Tennessee.
Senators are generally more circumspect, but there are a couple of bills inspired by the IRS scandal in the Senate.
And there’s S. 962. The bill would go after the funding of Obamacare, prohibiting “amounts made available by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 from being transferred to the Internal Revenue Service for implementation of such Acts.” The author of this bill is Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), along with a quartet of cosponsors: Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).
Senator Rubio has a bill of his own in this area. S. 941 would “prevent discriminatory misconduct against taxpayers” by Federal officers and employees. The text is not available, but it’s an amendment to the criminal code, so it’s likely a lot like H.R. 1950—fines and potential jail time for rogue IRS employees.
Scandal wakes up D.C.!
Things certainly were interesting over the past week. The IRS is not one of the government’s most beloved agencies, and the implication that it worked to throw the last election is electric for Beltway media and politicians.
Expect much more in this area during the weeks and months to come…