House passes seventh 2015 appropriations bill with steep IRS cuts

The House passed its seventh fiscal 2015 appropriations bill on Wednesday to fund the Internal Revenue Service, Wall Street enforcement agencies and general government programs.

The measure, passed 228-195, includes steep cuts to the IRS budget.

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Originally, the bill would have provided $10.95 billion for the IRS for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, which would be $341 million less than the current spending level. But the House adopted amendments to cut the IRS budget by another $1 billion combined.

Before final passage, the House passed an amendment, 282-138, from Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) to ban awarding performance bonuses to senior executives at the IRS.

Provisions in the bill would block the IRS from further implementing the 2010 healthcare law, including the individual mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty.  

Another part of the measure would subject the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to the annual appropriations process in fiscal 2016. The agency is currently funded through the Federal Reserve.

On Tuesday, the House rejected, 170-244, Rep. Gwen Moore's (D-Wis.) amendment to strike a provision in the bill allowing for funds transferred from the Federal Reserve to the CFPB to be reviewed by appropriators.

The legislation also includes a $637 million federal payment to the District of Columbia, a reduction of $37 million from the fiscal 2014 level.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) offered an amendment that would prohibit funds from being used by the District to enforce its handgun ban and other gun laws. It passed 241-181.

The wide-ranging bill also includes $674 billion for the Executive Office of the President and an authorization for the General Services Administration to spend $9.1 billion out of the Federal Buildings Fund.

Earlier Wednesday, the House gave voice-vote approval to Rep. Pat Meehan’s (R-Pa.) amendment to prohibit the use of funds to renovate the White House bowling alley. Democrats had previously ordered a roll call on the amendment, but later withdrew their request.

"With our nation $17 trillion in debt, upgrading the president's private bowling alley shouldn't be a priority," Meehan said.

Rep. José Serrano (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Appropriations subcommittee, dismissed Meehan's amendment as "silly."

"I don't think the American public, with all due respect to the people in the gentleman's district, really spend a lot of time concerned about the fact that all presidents — and I mean all presidents — are not allowed just to pick up and go to a local place to have a beer or bowl a game of bowling or whatever," Serrano said.

The House has passed six other fiscal 2015 appropriations bills: military construction-Veterans Affairslegislative branchCommerce-Justice-scienceTransportation-Housing and Urban DevelopmentDefense and Energy-water.

Meanwhile, the Senate has yet to pass any appropriations bills for fiscal 2015 due to an ongoing disagreement over amendments.

A stopgap measure to keep the federal government running past Oct. 1 through the midterm elections appears likely.

As with other appropriations bills, the Financial Services measure was considered under an open rule allowing members to offer an unlimited number of amendments. In total, the House considered 51 amendments over three days.