Senate confirms Biden IRS nominee in bipartisan vote

Nominee for Commissioner of Internal Revenue Service Daniel Werfel
Greg Nash
Nominee for Commissioner of Internal Revenue Service Daniel Werfel answers questions during his Senate Finance Committee nomination hearing on Wednesday, February 15, 2023.

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed President Biden’s pick to lead the IRS with bipartisan support.

Senators voted 54 to 42 to confirm Danny Werfel as commissioner of the IRS on Wednesday evening, hours after the chamber voted to advance his confirmation.

Six Republicans voted for Werfel while Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voted against him because of an ongoing beef with the White House over the implementation of last year’s Inflation Reduction Act.

GOP senator backs Biden IRS nominee despite concerns over funding boost

Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) voted for the nominee.

Werfel was previously approved for a confirmation vote by the Senate Finance Committee, which held his nomination hearing, by a strong 17-9 tally.

Despite deep partisan divides over tax policy and the role of the IRS itself, Werfel received notable Republican support throughout his confirmation process.

“For Mr. Werfel to get bipartisan support to lead the IRS at a time when a lot of Republicans would happily mothball the entire agency is a testament to his fairness, his ability to work with both sides and his undeniable qualification for this role,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, in a Thursday statement.

Werfel previously served as acting IRS commissioner in 2013 during the Obama administration, taking the role in the wake of a scandal at the agency involving its treatment of certain conservative groups.

He also served at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) during the George W. Bush administration.

As IRS commissioner, Werfel will take the helm of an agency undergoing a major internal overhaul.

The IRS received $80 billion in additional funding last year through President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, meant largely to improve the agency’s responsiveness. Werfel also said he would prioritize addressing the disproportionate rates at which low-income and minority Americans are audited.

Democrats targeted the new funds toward upgrading decades-old computer systems, hiring more IRS personnel to handle taxpayer complaints, and improving the agency’s ability to collect taxes owed by wealthy Americans. Republicans, however, criticized the Biden administration for funneling more money into the IRS and expressed fears it would lead to higher tax burdens for middle and lower-income families.

Some Republicans who voted against Werfel said they did so to express opposition to the IRS funding windfall more than to protest Werfel.

“I don’t think this is so much about a vote on Mr. Werfel, I think it’s the fact that Democrats appropriated $80 billion for the IRS without any plan for how it’s going to be spent,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).

“There’s a lot of skepticism about how that power might be used,” he added.

Manchin said he voted against the nominee because he has lost confidence in the administration’s implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act.

Manchin will vote against Biden’s pick to head IRS

“At every turn, this administration has ignored congressional intent when implementing the Inflation Reduction Act,” Manchin said in a statement.

“While Daniel Werfel I supremely qualified to serve as the IRS Commissioner, I have zero faith he will be given the autonomy to perform the job in accordance with the law and for that reason, I cannot support his nomination,” he said.

Updated at 12:56 p.m.

Tags Biden Danny Werfel Danny Werfel Inflation Reduction Act IRS Joe Manchin John Cornyn

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