Politics

Conservatives May Force Vote on Impeaching IRS Commissioner

Judiciary Committee has not acted on impeachment resolution since hearings

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, would rather the Judiciary Committee commit to having an impeachment vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A handful of House Freedom Caucus members are considering forcing a vote on a resolution to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen before Congress adjourns for a seven-week recess, members said Tuesday.  

"We're still hopeful that it will go through committee, still hopeful that there's a potential for judiciary to act on this particular issue," said North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, a founding member of the Freedom Caucus. "There's lots of questions about procedural motions. Those things are still all on the table but no decisions have been made."  

[ The GOP's War on the IRS ]  

Since House leaders have offered no commitment that the chamber will vote on the impeachment resolution, members of the conservative caucus have discussed offering a privileged motion to force a floor vote on the matter.   

"Certainly leadership has been given ample opportunity to move that forward with plenty of efforts to suggest that need," said Freedom Caucus member John Fleming of Louisiana.  

The effort to impeach Koskinen follows years of congressional investigations into allegations that the IRS targeted conservative political groups that applied for tax exempt status.   

Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah introduced a resolution in October to impeach Koskinen that was co-sponsored by most of the Republican members of his panel, including several Freedom Caucus members.   

The resolution argued that Koskinen failed to comply with a subpoena requesting certain IRS documents and that he provided false and misleading information to Congress about missing emails sent to and from former IRS official Lois Lerner, a lead figure in the targeting scandal.   

The Judiciary Committee held two hearings on the allegations against Koskinen but has not acted on the impeachment resolution. The Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a vote to censure Koskinen since that panel does not have the jurisdiction to vote on impeachment.  

A Republican Judiciary aide said the panel is reflecting on the ideas discussed during its hearing with outside experts on the options available to Congress to address Koskinen’s alleged misconduct and on whether Congress should take further action.  

[ IRS Commissioner Won't Testify at Impeachment Hearing ] Chaffetz seemed unaware of the Freedom Caucus's plans when asked about it Tuesday but said he'd be supportive of a privileged motion. "I would love to have a vote," he said.  

Meadows suggested that a procedural maneuver could be avoided if the Judiciary Committee or leadership would commit to holding a vote.   

"I think it's important that we have some kind of time frame determined by the end of the week," he said. Given opposition from Democrats and some Republicans, it's unlikely an impeachment vote would be successful.  

The topic of an impeachment vote came up Tuesday during Speaker Paul D. Ryan's advisory committee meeting with representatives from the Freedom Caucus and other factions of the House Republican Conference.  

Ryan told the advisory group members that it's up to the Judiciary Committee on how to proceed and that the full GOP conference would need to have a discussion about the matter before a floor vote, according to a source familiar with the meeting.  

The speaker was asked about the impeachment effort back in April and he gave an answer that indicated he wasn't on board .  

[ Ryan Stops Short of Backing Effort to Impeach IRS Chief ]  

"Yes, I think this is an agency that has not been led well and this is an agency that needs to be cleaned up," the Wisconsin Republican said at the time. "As far as these other issues, look, what I think what we need to do is win an election, get better people in these agencies and reform the tax code so we’re not harassing the average taxpayer with a tax code that they can't even understand." 

Contact McPherson at  lindseymcpherson@rollcall.com  and follow her on Twitter  @lindsemcpherson .

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.