Republicans on Capitol Hill are pushing back against new IRS rules that would silence and freeze conservatives out of the political process. In response to the IRS targeting scandal, IRS officials have come up with new rules that would prohibit scores of conservative tea party groups from participating in activities like handing out voter guides, voter registration drives and other activity IRS officially classify as "political." The new rules were drafted by Lois Lerner, the former head of tax exempt groups at the IRS in the middle of the controversy. After pleading the Fifth in front of Congress and taking paid leave over the summer, Lerner has now retired on the tax payer dime. Republicans are doing everything they can to delay the implementation of those rules.
A House panel passed a bill Tuesday that would delay regulations by the Treasury Department designed to limit the political activities of so-called social welfare groups.
Treasury officials claim the regulations would help clarify vague rules about which groups qualify for tax-exempt status, but congressional Republicans believe the regulations are an attempt to legalize the targeting of conservative groups.
“Make no mistake about it: the Obama administration is doing this as a blatant attempt to silence political speech,” Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., said in a statement.
The Ways and Means Committee voted 23-13 to pass a bill that would block the regulations for a year. It was a straight party-line vote, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed. The full House is expected to take up the bill after the House returns from its Presidents' Day vacation.
Last week President of True the Vote Catherine Engelbrecht, who was targeted not just by the IRS but by OSHA, ATF and the FBI as a result of her involvement in the political process, testified on Capitol Hill about her experience. Her attorney, Cleta Mitchell, ripped the Department of Justice for its lack of investigation into the targeting that took place and hit back on new rules limiting the free speech of conservative groups.