Looming Fiscal Fights Threaten IRS Probes
Republicans on Capitol Hill are acknowledging that the fall’s looming fiscal fights could peel attention away from their investigation into the IRS’s singling out of conservative groups, according to The Hill newspaper.
Congress returns to Washington in a week, at which time lawmakers will seek deals to fund the government past the end of September and to raise the debt ceiling by mid-October. They will now also consider authorizing military action against Syria.
But Republicans have also made the IRS investigation a key part of their recent political message, at a time when the agency is trying to implement the Democratic healthcare law that conservatives are itching to defund. The controversy has also helped revive a Tea Party movement that had been flagging in recent months.
Adding to the investigation are questions about use of a personal email account by IRS official Lois Lerner that allegedly laid the foundation for discrimination in granting non-profit status to conservative and other groups. See http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/08/13/house-irs-probe-shows-lerner-used-personal-email-account-for-official-business.
With all that in mind, GOP aides stress that the congressional investigation into the IRS will be moving full speed ahead, that discussions are underway about potential hearings in the fall, and that the tax-writing committees have more than enough staff to deal with the IRS targeting and fiscal issues.
Republicans add that they believe there’s plenty of key information left in the thousands of pages of documents the IRS has yet to hand over – especially when it comes to Lois Lerner, the top agency official at the center of the controversy.
Republicans insist that the public remains skeptical of both the IRS, and the administration’s handling of the issue. But in recent months, Democrats have become increasingly critical of the GOP’s conduct in the investigation, with one party aide likening it to a deep-sea fishing expedition.
John Feehery, a GOP strategist, said that Republicans would be smart to keep the focus on the IRS in the coming months, with some on the right trying to use the fiscal deadlines as leverage to make changes to Obama’s healthcare law.
“You have to make the connection to ObamaCare, because it’s so hot right now,” Feehery said. “And you get to be on the side of the taxpayer.”