House to restrict IRS, cap bonuses, take other steps to 'stop government abuse'

"Many in Washington have forgotten the most important principle — that the federal government works for you — and not the other way around," he said in a weekend address.

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The bills are, in large part, a reaction to the scandal from earlier this year in which the IRS admitted to targeting conservative groups. Aside from the political nature of the IRS's actions, Republicans have been outraged that no one has been fired from the IRS, and that some employees are on paid leave.

Several of the bills up this week deal with the IRS. The Stop Targeting Our Politics IRS (STOP IRS) Act, H.R. 2565 from Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), would allow for the termination of any IRS employee who injects politics into their work.

"The public trust has been violated," Renacci said when he introduced his bill last month. "My legislation would give the IRS a vital tool needed to begin the process of showing hardworking American taxpayers that there will be accountability going forward."

Two IRS bills from Chief Deputy Majority Whip Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) will get votes this week. One is the Taxpayer Bill of Rights Act, H.R. 2768, which would require the IRS to guarantee rights to taxpayers, including the right to privacy, the right to appeal rulings and the right to be informed about IRS decisions.

The second is the Stop Playing on Citizens' Cash (SPOCC) Act, H.R. 2769, which would limit the ability of the IRS to hold conferences. That bill is a response to later news that the IRS — like many federal agencies — has been spending millions on what members of both parties have said are unnecessarily lavish conferences.

Roskam named his bill the SPOCC Act after the IRS used one of its meetings to produce a "Star Trek" parody video, which Republicans and Democrats hammered as a waste of taxpayer funds.

"This track record shows the IRS has been acting with virtually no regard for the taxpayers they serve and an unacceptable lack of oversight from their senior leadership," Roskam said last week. "The magnitude of waste and abuse that has already occurred is staggering, and these two bills and the legislation being forwarded during 'Stop Government Abuse Week' will help our continued effort to get the IRS and the bureaucracy under control."

Another bill, the Government Employee Accountability Act, would go beyond the IRS and give all agencies the option of putting federal workers on leave during investigations.

"Beneath all of the recent scandals is the fact that for too long too many federal employees have had the luxury of playing by different rules than hardworking men and women in the private sector outside of Washington," Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) said last month of his bill, H.R. 2579. "This problem must end, and the Government Employee Accountability Act would help accomplish this."

Several broader bills will also come up, including the Citizen Empowerment Act from Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.). Her bill, H.R. 2711, would give people the explicit right to record phone conversations and other interactions with government workers.

"In meetings with folks across eastern Kansas, and in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee, I have heard story after story of federal regulators abusing their power," Jenkins said in July. "The Citizen Empowerment Act will ensure all Americans are aware of their rights, give individuals a new tool to fight back, and allow citizens to protect themselves or their businesses when a government official comes calling."

The Common Sense in Compensation Act, from Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), would cap federal worker bonuses at 5 percent through fiscal 2015. Meadows has said most senior officials are getting an average bonus of $13,000 a year and said this is excessive in light of the sequester and ongoing furloughs of lower-level workers.

"These bonuses exemplify Washington's spending problem, and we need sound legislation to restore common sense in federal employee compensation," he said back in April of his bill, H.R. 1541.

The House will also move a Democratic bill, the Government Customer Service Improvement Act, H.R. 1660. The bill from Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) would require the Office of Management and Budget to develop government-wide standards for customer service.

"Too often we hear that Americans are frustrated with government service," he said back in April. "It is our responsibility to act when we hear that students are having difficulty with federal student loans or when seniors experience a delay in their retirement benefits."

All of these bills are suspension bills, which will require a two-thirds majority vote for passage. But the House will also consider three bills under regular order, including two bills requiring Congress to approve federal regulations that have a large economic impact.

One of these is the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, H.R. 1582, and the other, H.R. 367, would impose similar restrictions on EPA regulations.

On Friday, the House will take up its headline government oversight bill, the Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act, H.R. 2009. This bill would prohibit the IRS from implementing any part of ObamaCare.