House committee approves spending bill that would boost IRS funding

House committee approves spending bill that would boost IRS funding
© Greg Nash

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved a $23.4 billion financial services spending bill that includes a boost to IRS funding.

The committee passed the bill by a largely party-line vote of 28-20. The vote comes less than a month after the Appropriations panel’s financial services and general government subcommittee advanced the bill.

The bill would provide funding for fiscal 2019 for a number of agencies, including the IRS, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Federal Communications Commission, and the federal judiciary.

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While Republicans slashed the IRS budget during many years of the Obama administration, they have been more willing to increase the agency’s funding level following last year’s passage of their tax-cut law.

Under the new measure, the IRS would receive $11.6 billion in funding, which is $186 million more than the funding level Congress enacted for this year.

The IRS funding in the bill includes $77 million requested by the Trump administration to implement the new tax law. That’s on top of the $320 million Congress appropriated for the IRS for this purpose in legislation Trump signed in March.

The bill would reduce funding for the SEC by $201 million compared to this year, but that decrease relates to a one-time cost in 2018 concerning lease renewals.

It also would subject the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to annual appropriations starting in fiscal 2020, which has long been a priority of Republicans.

And it would set aside $585 million, which can’t be spent until there’s no budget deficit. This provision is a priority of Rep. Tom GravesJohn (Tom) Thomas GravesThe stakes are sky-high for the pro-life cause in the upcoming midterms Dem senator: Congress should consider allowing companies to 'hack back' after cyberattacks House completes first half of 2019 spending bills MORE (R-Ga.), the chairman of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over the bill.

Graves and other Republicans were positive about the bill.

“We have aimed to provide oversight and to allocate taxpayer dollars with the greatest of care," Graves said. “We have also decided to reflect on the public outcry over deficit spending.”

But Democrats criticized the bill. They were upset by a number of riders in the measure — including one that would largely prevent the IRS from using funds to enforce a law barring churches from endorsing political candidates — and were bothered by the lack of funds for direct assistance to state election integrity efforts.

“This bill does not adequately meet the growing needs of our small businesses, taxpayers or middle-class consumers and investors,” said Rep. Mike QuigleyMichael (Mike) Bruce QuigleyCongress must not ignore the ‘flashing red light’ on election security Midwife: Lack of diversity in profession hurts pregnant women of color Dems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia MORE (D-Ill.), the top Democrat on the financial services and general government subcommittee.

Democrats offered amendments to provide funds for grants for election cybersecurity infrastructure and to remove policy riders, but they were rejected.