Republican House Keeps IRS in its Crosshairs
Bills related to targeting controversy include one to restrict use of personal email.
Racing through the final days in an election-year session, House Republicans on Tuesday night used a voice vote to approve a spate of bills related to the ongoing controversy over alleged political bias at the Internal Revenue Service.
“The American people demand a higher ethical standard from public servants in our government,” said Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La. “As our investigation continues to expose the rot at the core of the IRS’ culture, we must put safeguards in place to ensure this breach of the public trust is never repeated. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, ‘Sunlight is the best disinfectant.’ My bills bring the operations of the IRS into the sunlight of public scrutiny, providing greater accountability for future generations of Americans.”
The five bills approved under suspension of the rules included:
- H.R. 5418, to prohibit IRS officers and employees from using personal email accounts to conduct official business;
- H.R. 5419, to provide tax-exempt groups the right to an administrative appeal relating to adverse determinations of tax-exempt status; and
- H.R. 5420, to permit the release of certain information on investigation status to taxpayers whose personal information was leaked to the public.
Two other bills inspired by the IRS controversy would have an impact across the government: H.R. 5169 would give agencies greater authority to discipline or fire Senior Executive Service members who underperform or misbehave, and H.R. 5170 would help ensure that employees who intentionally destroy federal records could be fired expeditiously.
“Even as the congressional investigation of IRS targeting continues, we already have evidence of abuses that necessitate reform,” said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. Boustany’s bills would provide “new protections [to] help level the playing field between taxpayers and the IRS officials who can turn their lives inside out through abusive audits and enhanced scrutiny.”
The fate of the five bills in the Senate is uncertain.
(Image via Rena Schild/Shutterstock.com)