House Republicans look to slash IRS budget by $3 billion in fiscal 2014

House Republicans are pushing legislation that would slash the IRS's budget by $3 billion for its "inappropriate actions" in targeting political groups.

The bill would place several additional restrictions on spending at the embattled agency and prohibit employees from implementing the individual mandate in ObamaCare.

The fiscal 2014 spending bill released by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) would allocate $9 billion for the IRS, which is $4 billion below President Obama's budget request and more than $3 billion less than what House Republicans pushed last year. The agency received $12 billion in fiscal 2013.

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The measure would also withhold 10 percent of the IRS's enforcement budget until it fully implements the recommendations of the taxpayer watchdog that investigated the improper targeting and excessive spending on IRS conferences. 

The push to cut the IRS's budget is a part of a series of House Republican bills intended to respond to the IRS's targeting of groups seeking tax-exempt status. Republicans have been outraged by revelations that the IRS went after conservative Tea Party groups. 

One of the other bills would people to record conversations between themselves and federal employees, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Tuesday.

“The public is feeling a growing sense of distrust of what this administration and what Washington is doing,” Cantor told reporters Tuesday. “And that’s why we in the House this month will be taking up a package of bills to stop this government abuse and put the American people first.

In addition to the recording proposal, the bills would aim to boost customer service at federal agencies, allow agencies to put senior career officials on leave without pay if they are under investigation for abuses and require more approval for publicly funded conferences.

The House will also bring back legislation known as the Reins Act to require congressional approval for new regulations with a large impact on the economy, and the House will target the 2010 healthcare law with legislation to prohibit its implementation by the IRS.

The spending bill would put a halt to IRS bonuses and other awards until those programs were reviewed by Congress. It also seeks to stop the production of videos like the recently revealed "Star Trek" and "Gilligan's Island" parodies that cost the IRS roughly $60,000.

Rogers indicated that appropriators would be looking to use the spending bill as leverage over the IRS back in June, and said as much to the acting IRS head, Danny Werfel.

"I don't need to remind you or anybody else that the power of the purse rests with the Congress, and we're prepared to use that purse to get to the truth," he said at the June 3 hearing.

The financial services and general government appropriations legislation is following the blueprint of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget, which increases defense spending over the sequester level and balancing that with deeper cuts to domestic programs. 

The measure would offer fewer dollars to the Securities and Exchange Commission than the president requested. Obama asked for the Wall Street watchdog to receive $1.7 billion in fiscal 2014, while the House bill would provide $1.4 billion.

The legislation also looks to bring the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a frequent target of GOP ire, under the control of congressional appropriators.

Currently, the consumer agency receives its funding directly from the Federal Reserve, leaving Congress no control over its pocketbook. The House legislation would subject the CFPB to the appropriations process. Republicans contend that will increase accountability to the agency, while Democrats argue it is simply a GOP attempt to starve the new agency of resources.

The measure also includes a provision that would continue a ban on the use of federal funds for abortion, needle exchanges, and medical marijuana programs in the District of Columbia. The bill also would continue the ban on the use of federal funds for abortion nationwide.

The Federal Communications Commission would receive $320 million in the House bill — $20 million less than fiscal 2013. And the Federal Trade Commission would experience a similarly sized haircut on the House offer of $295 million.

The bill also includes a provision that would ban travel to Cuba for educational exchanges not tied to a degree program, a measure that previously was a key point of contention that nearly scuttled the fiscal 2012 omnibus before it was removed.

This story was posted at 9:59 a.m. and updated at 11:54 a.m.

Russell Berman contributed to this story.

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