House GOP braces for spending, IRS fights

Greg Nash

House GOP leaders are preparing their members for fights over government funding and whether to impeach the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service when Congress returns from its long summer recess.

Republican leadership held a conference call for members on Thursday that focused largely on expected meetings as soon as they return the week of Labor Day to chart a path forward on both issues, lawmakers and aides said.

No strategy has been finalized for a stopgap funding measure to avoid an Oct. 1 government shutdown, and lawmakers haven’t decided whether the House should vote on a resolution to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

{mosads}Some conservatives are pushing for a longer-term funding bill that lasts into 2017 to avoid a protracted battle over a catch-all spending package, known as an omnibus, in the lame-duck session after the November elections. But that strategy could also carry risks for the GOP if Democrats were to win the White House and take back the Senate.

And Freedom Caucus members are pushing to vote on a resolution to impeach Koskinen, who they allege wasn’t forthcoming with documents regarding the IRS’s scrutiny of conservative nonprofits.

Reps. John Fleming (R-La.) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) introduced a “privileged” resolution on the House’s last day of session before the recess to force a vote on impeachment. It’s unclear if members of the Freedom Caucus would have to re-file the resolution, given that House rules state that privileged measures must be acted on within two legislative days.

GOP leaders have been wary of staging an impeachment vote, given that the House has only voted one other time in history to impeach a Cabinet official: Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876.

House Republicans’ first conference meeting upon returning the day after Labor Day is expected to focus on strategy for the spending bill, with another on the IRS the following week.

Republicans’ approach to pressing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on her use of a private email server as secretary of State will likely also dominate discussions when Congress returns next month. But the topic didn’t come up on Thursday’s conference call, a lawmaker said.

The House Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a hearing next month on allegations that Clinton committed perjury.

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