House panel votes to cut IRS funding

The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved a spending bill that would reduce funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The bill would give the IRS $10.9 billion for fiscal 2017, which is $236 million less than the enacted level for this year.

{mosads}The IRS budget under the bill would be lower than its 2008 level and $1.3 billion less than President Obama requested in his budget. The bill also includes provisions to stop the IRS from further implementing ObamaCare and to increase oversight of the IRS in the wake of its political-targeting scandal.

Republicans supported the bill’s treatment of the IRS.

Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.), chairman of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over the bill, said that instead of turning over a new leaf after the targeting scandal came to light, “the IRS made a series of embarrassing management mistakes at the expense of customer service.”

But Democrats expressed concerns about the cuts to the IRS.

Rep. José Serrano (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the subcommittee, said that “by continually cutting the IRS, we are simply empowering tax cheats and confusing honest taxpayers.” 

Overall, the fiscal 2017 financial services and general government bill provides $21.7 billion in funding, $1.5 billion less than the 2016 enacted level. In addition to the IRS, the bill provides funds for the Judiciary, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Small Business Administration and other agencies.

It was approved in a vote of 30-17 over objections from Democrats.

“This bill is notable for the good work it does on two fronts: directing funding where it’s needed most to grow the economy and enforce our laws, and tightly holding the reins on overspending, overreach, waste within the federal bureaucracies,” Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said.

The legislation would maintain the current funding level of $2.1 billion for taxpayer servicers and would provide an additional $290 million for customer service, cybersecurity and fraud prevention.

Democrats also took issue with other parts of the bill, including a $50 million reduction in funding for the SEC, a ban on the Federal Communications Commission implementing a net neutrality order until court cases are resolved, and bans on federal and local funds from being used for certain purposes in the District of Columbia.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, offered an amendment that she said would strike 30 of “the most egregious poison-pill riders.”

But Crenshaw said that striking 30 provisions is ”beyond the pale” and would “add to the government intrusion in our lives.” The amendment failed.

Amendments to allow D.C. to spend local funds on abortion services, make D.C.’s local budget autonomy act federal law, strike three FCC riders and increase SEC funding to its requested level also failed.

An amendment to restrict the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from implementing its recently proposed rule on payday lending until it’s further studied was approved over the objections of Democrats.


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