As reported here, the 118th Congress began with an historic start January 3 when they reopened the Capitol for the first time since the March 2020 Covid lockdowns. The new GOP-led House of Representatives then made history again, when for the first time in 100 years it took them multiple ballots over four days to choose a House Speaker, as explained here.
However, by the early hours of January 7, the House had a new Speaker, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Moving quickly to keep campaign promises and enact their agenda, late on January 9 the House of Representatives took their first vote of the new Congress: to defund the 87,000 new IRS agents that the Biden administration had recently requested and that the 117th Congress approved last year.
To put 87,000 in context, the entire population of Roanoke City is currently around 99,000, (a number that has been stagnant for decades.)
“House Republicans just voted unanimously to repeal the Democrats’ army of 87,000 IRS agents. This was our very first act of the new Congress, because government should,” stated Speaker McCarthy.
The vote reflects the closely-divided House and American people. The bill — dubbed “the Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act” and sponsored by Rep. Adrian Smith, (R-NE) and Rep. Michelle Steel, (R-CA) — passed the House of Representatives, 221-210. All the yes votes were from Republicans and all the no votes were from Democrats.
Among the yes votes were those of the three Congressmen, all Republicans, representing the western half of Virginia: Rep. Ben Cline (VA6), Rep. Morgan Griffith (VA9), and Rep. Bob Good (VA5).
On his official Congressional Twitter page, Rep. Cline retweeted Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX):
“The first @HouseGOP bill we’ll vote on:
- is only two pages long
- is about a single topic
- was noticed with enough time to read
- will be voted on by Members who show up to vote in person
- works to combat the weaponization of the Government against the people.
After the vote Cline tweeted: “Last night, @HouseGOP BLOCKED the Biden admin from unleashing 87,000 new IRS agents & staff on families & small businesses. The LAST thing Americans want is more bureaucrats coming after their money.”
Roanoke County business owner Tim Shepherd had this to say about the bill passing the House. “I think it’s great. When you think about 87,000 people, I believe it would have been better to hire other kinds of people, like more police officers, fire fighters, or border patrol agents. We don’t need 87,000 more IRS agents.”
Specifically, the bill aims to rescind $71 billion out of the $80 billion allocated to expand the IRS under last year’s so-called “Inflation Reduction Act.” The remaining $9 billion the Republicans left for the IRS is specifically to help improve customer service and beef up Information Technology at the agency, not to hire the 87,000 new employees.
Of particular concern to critics of the expanded IRS was that many of the new agents were to be armed, despite the Biden administration being publicly pro-gun control. Moreover, with data showing the IRS audits the poorest families at five times the rate they audit others, many saw the augmented IRS as a threat to lower and middle income Americans, small business owners, and conservatives since the Obama-era IRS targeted many Republican-oriented groups.
In contrast, Democrats claimed the 87,000 new IRS agents were needed to audit more millionaires so that the rich would be “paying their fair share.”
Virginia’s two US Senators, Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, voted to approve the 87,000 new agents when they voted to pass the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” last year. The Roanoke Star has reached out to Sens. Warner and Kaine if they had a statement about the House’s January 9 vote and if they plan to support or oppose the measure in the Senate.
However, since Democrats enjoy a 51-49 majority in the new Senate and since President Biden favors the new IRS agents, the chance of the House’s bill becoming law appear slim.
Nevertheless, the measure does show voters how the Democrat and Republican leaders differ in their approaches to policy and visions for the future.
In other news, the House entertained a motion to actually abolish the IRS and replace it with a consumption tax, as well as filing articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas. Any impeachment would lead to a trial in the Senate, where the Democrat majority would be unlikely to remove Mayorkas from office.