GOP senators seek legislation on IRS bonuses

Three senior Senate Republicans introduced legislation on Thursday to bar any Internal Revenue Service employees with tax debt from receiving bonuses.

The legislation from Sens. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate ethics panel resumes Menendez probe after judge declares mistrial Senate passes resolution requiring mandatory sexual harassment training Overnight Energy: Perry takes heat for sexual assault comments | Clovis withdraws nomination for USDA post | Battle lines drawn on Arctic refuge drilling | Energy regulator back to full strength MORE (R-Kan.), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziGOP senators ask Trump for meeting on biofuels mandate Senate budget just the latest attack on seniors Week ahead: GOP's next steps on tax reform | Fed chief speculation heats up | Senate to vote on disaster relief MORE (R-Wyo.) and John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate panel approves GOP tax plan Republicans see rising Dem odds in Alabama Overnight Health Care: Nearly 1.5M sign up for ObamaCare so far | Schumer says Dems won't back ObamaCare deal if it's tied to tax bill | House passes fix to measure letting Pentagon approve medical treatments MORE (R-S.D.), all members of the tax-writing Finance Committee, comes on the heels of a Treasury inspector general report that found the IRS gave more than $1 million in bonuses to employees with tax issues.

“This isn’t a partisan issue — it’s just commonsense. Until the IRS gets back on course, it should not be in the business of awarding bonuses — particularly to its agents who are unable or unwilling to abide by the tax laws they are directed to uphold,” Roberts said in a statement.

The measure marks at least the third bill dealing with the bonuses introduced in the Senate just this week. Sens. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteExplaining Democratic victories: It’s gun violence, stupid Trump voter fraud panel member fights back against critics Dems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada MORE (R-N.H.) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillOn Capitol Hill, few name names on sexual harassment Democrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  Gillibrand to donate money from Franken's PAC MORE (D-Mo.) introduced legislation on Tuesday, while Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrOvernight Energy: Chemical safety regulator's nomination at risk | Watchdog scolds Zinke on travel records | Keystone pipeline spills 210,000 gallons of oil Overnight Regulation: Senators unveil bipartisan gun background check bill | FCC rolls back media regs | Family leave credit added to tax bill | Senate confirms banking watchdog Collins ‘leaning against’ Trump EPA chemical nominee MORE (R-N.C.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  Overnight Finance: House passes sweeping tax bill in huge victory for GOP | Senate confirms banking regulator | Mulvaney eyed for interim head of consumer agency Overnight Regulation: Senators unveil bipartisan gun background check bill | FCC rolls back media regs | Family leave credit added to tax bill | Senate confirms banking watchdog MORE (D-W.Va.) dropped a measure on Wednesday.

Rep. Sam JohnsonSamuel (Sam) Robert JohnsonThe Hill's Whip List: Where Republicans stand on tax-reform bill Texas GOP lawmaker won’t seek reelection GOP to delay release of tax bill MORE (R-Texas) introduced the House version of the bill from Roberts, Enzi and Thune.

The bills come close to one year after the IRS apologized for giving improper scrutiny to Tea Party groups, an admission that set off a firestorm on and off Capitol Hill.

John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner, has already come under fire this year for approving more than $60 million in bonuses, some of which went to staffers with tax issues.

Koskinen has said that he wants to ensure that employees delinquent on their taxes don’t get awards in the future, but has urged Congress to give him time to negotiate with the National Treasury Employees Union.

Committee leaders have signaled that they’ll take a wait-and-see approach to the issue, but the new bill shows that congressional leaders, at least on the GOP side, have an interest in legislation.

Thune is in Senate Republican leadership, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAlabama election has GOP racing against the clock McConnell PAC demands Moore return its money Klobuchar taking over Franken's sexual assault bill MORE (R-Ky.) has signed on to the bill as well.