OPIOID SERIES:

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.

ADVERTISEMENT
The legislation from Sens. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsKill off anti-environmental excesses in the farm bill The Hill's 12:30 Report McConnell urges GOP senators to call Trump about tariffs MORE (R-Kan.), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziSupreme Court weighs future of online sales taxes The Hill's Morning Report: Hannity drawn into Cohen legal fight Budget chairman floats plan to eliminate his own committee MORE (R-Wyo.) and John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenators grill alleged robocall kingpin Overnight Energy: Trump energy adviser leaving for lobbying job | Zinke decides against lowering offshore royalty rates | Greens fight Coast Guard bill Coast Guard bill would weaken water pollution rules, environmentalists say 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 AyotteAudit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars US sends A-10 squadron to Afghanistan for first time in three years No, the US did not spend million on a gas station in Afghanistan MORE (R-N.H.) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillSenate blocks bill that opponents say weakens water pollution rules Senate GOP wary of new tax cut sequel GOP Senate hopefuls race to catch up with Dems MORE (D-Mo.) introduced legislation on Tuesday, while Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSenators express concerns over Haspel's 'destruction of evidence' Overnight Cybersecurity: US, UK blame Russia for global cyberattacks | Top cyber official leaving White House | Zuckerberg to meet EU digital chief Senators, state officials to meet on election cybersecurity bill MORE (R-N.C.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate blocks bill that opponents say weakens water pollution rules GOP Senate hopeful convicted after mining disaster files to vacate conviction Senate repeals auto-loan guidance in precedent-shattering vote MORE (D-W.Va.) dropped a measure on Wednesday.

Rep. Sam JohnsonSamuel (Sam) Robert JohnsonLoss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans Watchdog: Social Security acting head hasn't been authorized to serve for months Five things to watch for in Texas primaries 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 McConnellSenate blocks bill that opponents say weakens water pollution rules Pittsburgh police told to prepare for protests over potential Mueller firing: report Senate repeals auto-loan guidance in precedent-shattering vote MORE (R-Ky.) has signed on to the bill as well.