By Bernie Becker and Peter Schroeder – 07/09/13 08:16 PM ET
House Republicans are going on offense against the Internal Revenue Service with measures to slash the agency’s spending and reform what they say has become a culture of abuse.
The House Appropriations Committee released a measure on Tuesday that would roll back the IRS budget by $3 billion — a cut of roughly a quarter — in direct response to the agency’s targeting of tax-exempt groups.
The bill would place other restrictions on IRS staffers, including a prohibition on funding to implement the individual mandate in President Obama’s healthcare law.
Separately, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) unveiled plans to vote on a series of IRS-related proposals before the August recess, including a measure that would allow taxpayers to record conversations they have with federal enforcement employees.
One of the House GOP proposals would allow federal officials to be put on leave without pay if under investigation for abuses. That comes after the IRS official at the center of the targeting controversy — Lois Lerner — was placed on administrative leave with pay.
“The public is feeling a growing sense of distrust of what this administration and what Washington is doing,” Cantor said. “And that’s why we in the House this month will be taking up a package of bills to stop this government abuse and put the American people first.”
The intensified push against the IRS suggests that GOP lawmakers still see the IRS’s treatment of Tea Party groups as a potent political issue, and want to bring it back to the forefront even as they work on big-ticket issues like immigration.
Some top House Republicans acknowledged that a 24 percent cut in the IRS’s bottom line — from just under $12 billion this year to $9 billion in fiscal 2014 — would be unlikely to gain traction in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
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