Dozens of House members, including three Democrats, have put forward a new bill that would require the IRS to fire anyone who targets people or groups based on their political beliefs.
The Prevent Targeting at the IRS Act is a response to the scandal that broke last year in which IRS officials applied extra scrutiny to conservative groups that were seeking tax-exempt status. That scandal forced President Barack Obama to fire IRS Acting Commissioner Steven Miller in 2013, but Congress has grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of further accountability at the IRS since then.
One big example of this frustration has been the loss of key emails from former IRS employee Lois Lerner, who played a key role in overseeing tax exempt applications. Republicans have said it's too hard to believe that these emails were conveniently lost, when they might have shown more details about the effort to target conservative groups.
The bill from Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) would add political targeting to a list of reasons for immediately firing IRS workers. That list, created by a 1998 law, says IRS workers should be fired for reasons such as lying under oath and other actions against taxpayers.
Renacci's bill would add a new reason to fire IRS workers: "performing, delaying, or failing to perform (or threatening to perform, delay, or fail to perform) any official action (including any audit) with respect to a taxpayer for purpose of extracting personal gain or benefit or for a political purpose."
"If an employee targets taxpayers based on their political beliefs, he or she should be terminated immediately," Renacci said. "Political targeting contradicts the very principles this country was founded upon, and there is no room for it in our democracy. It will not be tolerated."
"It's commonsense legislation that brings accountability to an institution that sorely lacks it, and I expect it to move swiftly through the legislative process."
His bill has 44 cosponsors, including three Democrats: Reps. John Carney (D-Del.), John Delaney (D-Md.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).
Read the bill here: