Politics

House GOP Spending Bill Cuts IRS Budget By $883 Million

| by Alexander Rubinstein
Internal Revenue Service.Internal Revenue Service.

House Republicans aim to cut $838 million from the Internal Revenue Service’s budget for fiscal 2016, which starts on Oct. 1. The bill also makes spending cuts aimed at curbing the Obama administration’s “overreach,” according to the GOP-led panel.

The IRS budget reduction would be more than twice that of the $350 million Congress cut from the department's budget in 2015. In fiscal 2016, the IRS would get $10.1 billion, which undercuts the agency’s sequester limit that Congress enacted 12 years ago. This would constitute a 7.7 percent cut for the agency, compared to the president’s call for an 18 percent increase, reports Bloomberg Politics. The House Appropriations Committee said the amount would let the IRS continue to perform its core duties.

Democrats and Republicans now disagree by $2.8 billion in IRS funding, a massive amount on a topic that is considered politically sensitive.

Republicans argue that military spending should take priority over the IRS and Environmental Protection Agency. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cited a threat of a veto on the funding for troops and equipment.

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Details of the bill were outlined in the Financial Services and General Government Operations spending bill. The bill also contains a $75 million increase to improve the IRS’s phone answering service.

A summary of the bill said, “The legislation includes provisions to stop the IRS from further implementing the individual mandate under Obamacare, to protect the right to free speech and political involvement, and to prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from implementing a net-neutrality order.”

This comes following the IRS scandal where it was accused of targeting tea party groups. The bill aims to protect taxpayer funds of those exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association.

The FCC would get $315 million, $25 million less than current levels and $73 million below President Barack Obama’s request. The bill would block the FCC from implementing net neutrality until some court cases are resolved. The new net neutrality regulations would prevent Internet providers from hampering people’s access to the web, according to The Hill.

Like other Republican spending bills, the bill undermines the president’s policy to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba. The bill would prohibit travel to the country for educational exchanges that do not include an academic study for a degree program. It would also prohibit importations of property confiscated by the Cuban government, and stop financial transactions with the Cuban military and intelligence service.

Also included in the bill are provisions prohibit federal and local funds from being used for the advancement of marijuana legislation and abortions.

Sources: Bloomberg Politics, The Hill

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons