Furious Over Scandals, House Guts IRS Budget, Blocks Performance Bonuses
The House voted to block performance bonuses for senior Internal Revenue Service executives Wednesday, The Hill reported.
“Giving out bonuses is ludicrous and amounts to a slap in the face to the American public,” said Rep. Paul Gosar, who introduced the amendment. “They should not be given performance awards in the wake of one of the largest scandals in recent history.”
The amendment passed by a vote of 282-138-1, with only Democrats voting against it.
“To suggest and paint with a broad brush the whole IRS and say that everyone there at the senior level is not worthy of a bonus or not worthy of our respect is really to do a disservice to public service employees,” said ranking member Democrat Rep. José Serrano. (RELATED: Steve Stockman Files For Lois Lerner’s Arrest)
The House also passed an amendment prohibiting the IRS from spending money on conferences, with Rep. Ron DeSantis noting that one recent conference alone cost more than $4 million. (RELATED: Lois Lerner Announced Targeting At 2010 Conference)
These are just the latest move in the House’s war on the IRS. Earlier this week it voted to slash the IRS’s budget by $1.14 billion, motivated by anger over the Lois Lerner targeting scandal.
“The IRS is guilty of targeting innocent Americans, now … I am targeting them,” said Rep. Gosar, who also sponsored of one of the amendments that dramatically cut funding.
“We need to keep in mind that the IRS is one of the most feared agencies within the federal government,” said Rep. Bill Huizenga, who introduced a separate budget-cutting amendment, which also passed. “It is up to Congress to prevent the IRS from ever slipping back into its targeting practices. The best way to do that is to force the IRS to consolidate its resources and prioritize. Congress itself has been forced to do this. Our own offices have been forced to do this and there is no reason the IRS cannot follow suit. We cannot allow the IRS to be used as a political weapon.” (RELATED: Lerner Warned Colleagues About Storing Email In 2013)
Gosar’s amendment cut the IRS’s budget by $353 million, while Huizenga’s chopped off another $788 million. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, this leaves the IRS with $9.8 billion for the fiscal year beginning on October 1.
Both amendments passed by a voice vote, meaning there is no record of who did and did not support the amendments.
Both the budget-cutting and bonus-blocking amendments were made to House Resolution 5016, the fiscal year 2015 financial services appropriations bill, which “provides annual funding for the Treasury Department, the Judiciary, the Small Business Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and several other agencies.”
These amendments have the White House rattled, with its budget office saying Monday that, “If the President were presented with H.R. 5016, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”
“Reverting the agency’s funding level to FY 2008 levels would hinder IRS efforts to provide robust service to taxpayers, improve enforcement operations, and implement new statutory responsibilities,” the statement read. “The Administration also objects to provisions that unnecessarily encumber IRS operations with reporting requirements and unduly restrict the IRS’s ability to finalize regulations.”
H.R. 5016 passed Wednesday afternoon by a vote of 228-195.
“The bill totals $21.3 billion in funding for these agencies, which is $566 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $2.3 billion below the President’s request for these programs,” said an Appropriations Committee press release. “The legislation prioritizes programs critical to enforcing laws, maintaining an effective judiciary system, and helping small businesses, while targeting lower-priority or poor-performing programs – such as the Internal Revenue Service – for reductions.”