GOP preparing bill to deny funds for IRS ObamaCare agents

Republican Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (Nev.) is preparing legislation to prevent the Internal Revenue Service from hiring new agents to implement ObamaCare in light of the agency's targeting of conservative groups.

The scandal has prompted fears that the IRS is incapable of neutrally enforcing major provisions of the healthcare reform law, including its individual mandate to buy insurance. 

"It is necessary that both Congress and the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] look closely at the money given to the IRS through the healthcare law," Heller wrote to HHS Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mike Roman says 3M on track to deliver 2 billion respirators globally and 1 billion in US by end of year; US, Pfizer agree to 100M doses of COVID-19 vaccine that will be free to Americans The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Former HHS Secretary Sebelius gives Trump administration a D in handling pandemic; Oxford, AstraZeneca report positive dual immunity results from early vaccine trial Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Kathleen Sebelius MORE on Tuesday.

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Policy experts say the Affordable Care Act created strict guidelines that federal tax officials will need to follow, but Republicans question whether the IRS can be trusted to remain nonpartisan as it implements President Obama's signature law. 

"I believe we need to address [the issue] now, which may mean calling for a temporary suspension until it is clearer where this funding will go," Heller wrote.

The IRS is responsible for the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, and the tax subsidies that millions of people will receive to help them buy health insurance. The agency will also manage the law's new streams of tax revenue from healthcare stakeholders.

Heller's bill would suspend funding for new employees to carry out those functions, his office said. The measure is expected later in the week.