Financial Services Funding Bill Would Reduce IRS Overreach

NTU urges all Representatives to vote “YES” on H.R. 5485, the Fiscal Year 2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act. This legislation spends $1.5 billion less than enacted in the previous fiscal year and includes many essential taxpayer protection policies.

H.R. 5485 would impose much-needed restrictions on an increasingly unbridled Internal Revenue Service (IRS). One of the reforms prohibits the IRS from finalizing a rule that would restrict the ability of 501(c)4 organizations, like NTU, to educate citizens and hold elected officials accountable by labeling basic advocacy activities to be "candidate related" and thus forbidden. The legislation would also prohibit targeting of organizations or citizens for exercising their First Amendment rights by the IRS and prohibits the Administration from directing the IRS to unfairly investigate an organization.

In addition, the legislation prohibits both the transfer or use of funds to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and some of its other harmful policies. H.R. 5485 also increases Congressional oversight of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and prohibits new FCC regulations including net neutrality, broadband rates, and the proposed set-top box rule – all of which would hurt consumers. Taxpayers also applaud the inclusion of funding for the DC Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act, a program that successfully delivers educational choice for District students.

However, H.R. 5485 misses an important opportunity to further halt IRS overreach that could have been rectified through the amendments process. Taxpayers are disappointed that several amendments offered by Representative Roskam (R-IL), particularly in the areas of donor privacy and protecting lawful financial transactions from abusive seizure practices, were not made in order by the House Rules Committee. It is critical that Congress take every opportunity to strike down or prevent IRS actions that threaten the free speech of citizens and organizations. Similarly, Section 745, which prohibits the use of funds at any agency to implement Executive Order 13690, establishing the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, is a regrettable provision. This section bars an important flood management reform that would help protect taxpayer investments and increase safety.

Still, despite its shortcomings, there is much in this legislation for taxpayers to commend. Roll call votes on the underlying bill, H.R. 5485, will be included in our annual Rating of Congress and a “YES” vote will be considered the pro-taxpayer position.

Lawmakers have the opportunity to further improve on the underlying legislation. NTU urges Representatives to vote “YES” on the following amendments:

  • #11 (#46) & #49 (#47): DeFazio (D-OR), Chaffetz (R-UT), Coffman (R-CO: These bipartisan amendments would save taxpayers $22,703,000 by reducing or prohibiting funding for the outdated Selective Service System.

  • #22 (#17): Blackburn (R-TN): This amendment would reduce spending across the board by one percent.

  • #29 (#45): Garrett (R-NJ): This amendment would help reduce the threat of future bailouts and taxpayer exposure to risk by prohibiting the use of funds to designate any nonbank financial company as “too big to fail.”

  • #33, (#86): Hudson (R-NC): This amendment would pre-empt any midnight regulations by prohibiting funding to propose or finalize any regulation until the beginning of the next Administration.

  • #39 (#52): Luetkemeyer (R-MO): This amendment would prohibit funding for Operation Chokepoint, an initiative that inappropriately targets legal businesses viewed unfavorably by the Administration.

  • #55 (#56): Duffy (R-WI): This amendment would save taxpayers $1 million by decreasing Department of the Treasury salaries and expenses.

Roll call votes on the above amendments to H.R. 5485 will be included in our annual Rating of Congress and a “YES” vote will be considered the pro-taxpayer position.

If you have any questions, please contact NTU Federal Affairs Manager Nan Swift at (703) 683-5700.