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Strong Legal Limits on the IRS': Spending Bill Takes Aim at Targeting Scandal

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“The IRS has failed the American people."

FILE - This March 5, 2014 file photo shows former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. A federal judge is ordering the IRS to explain _ under oath _ how it lost a trove of emails to and from a central figure in the agency's tea party controversy. U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan gave the tax agency a month to submit the explanation in writing. Sullivan issued the order Thursday as part of a freedom of information lawsuit by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group. The IRS says it lost the emails in 2011 when Lois Lerner’s computer crashed. At the time, Lerner headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File) AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File\n

After a two-year investigation, there has been little accountability in the wake of the Internal Revenue Service scandal in which many conservative groups were targeted by the taxing agency.

But now House Republicans are touting that the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill contains language to curb the IRS' ability to target groups based on their politics.

The bill funds the IRS at $1.7 billion below what President Barack Obama requested and specifically prohibits funds for the IRS to target organizations based on ideological views.

“The IRS has failed the American people by targeting individuals and organizations based on their political beliefs,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a statement. “That is unacceptable. The House has succeeded in putting strong legal limits on the IRS so that our government is accountable to the people.”

FILE - This March 5, 2014 file photo shows former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. A federal judge is ordering the IRS to explain _ under oath _ how it lost a trove of emails to and from a central figure in the agency's tea party controversy. U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan gave the tax agency a month to submit the explanation in writing. Sullivan issued the order Thursday as part of a freedom of information lawsuit by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group. The IRS says it lost the emails in 2011 when Lois Lerner’s computer crashed. At the time, Lerner headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File) AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)

In 2013, an inspector general report found that the tax-collecting agency had singled out Tea Party and other conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. IRS employee Lois Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination and was found in contempt of Congress.

Despite this, the Obama Justice Department opted against prosecuting anyone with the agency. This prompted the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to introduce articles of impeachment against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

Congress is expected to approve the spending bill this week. The White House has said that President Barack Obama will sign the measure.

The bill will prohibit the IRS from suppressing participation in nonprofit 501(c)4 organizations. Provisions in the spending bill further prohibit money for the IRS from targeting individuals exercising their First Amendment rights to political speech.

It further prohibits money for bonuses or hiring former employees without considering that person’s employee conduct or federal tax compliance, and requires extensive reporting on IRS spending and official time.

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