Senate Appropriations Chief: IRS Cuts Could Have Been Much Worse

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. Bill Hrybyk/Goddard Space Flight Center file photo

Democrats, pundits and federal employee unions have blasted the massive spending bill signed into law last week for including a Republican proposal to slash the budget of the Internal Revenue Service because of its alleged political bias.

But the cuts could have been far worse, outgoing Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said on Monday.

Mikulski “fought vigorously for a much higher funding level for the IRS and was dismayed when the House went after the agency with votes to slash more than $1.1 billion from the agency’s budget,” her spokesman told Government Executive. “Thankfully the bipartisan omnibus agreement restored most of those cuts.”

Indeed, back in July, the House, in voice votes, piled cuts upon cuts. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., offered the largest single cut, $788 million, which, when added to the $341 million already on offer, would have cut the agency by 10 percent. “The IRS has been targeting American taxpayers based on their political beliefs for the past four or five years,” he said. “It is up to Congress to use the power of the purse to rein in the IRS and force them to conduct their analysis in an unbiased manner. This is our constitutional tool.”

Mikulski, in her defense of her final bill as the best compromise possible, said, “this bill required some very difficult choices. I didn’t support everything in this bill. But an omnibus is a compromise. We were able to get rid of the vast majority of poison pill riders that were in the House bill. Every single rider that we faced -- 98 of them that came over from the House -- were hard fights and virtually all were eliminated. We were able to remove six irresponsible Wall Street riders from the final funding bill. We weren’t able to negotiate the last one away, but the final bill lessens its impact by increasing funding for enforcement of the remaining consumer financial protections.  These were hard fights. We won most, lost a few, but fought them all.”

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