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In Race to Investigate the IRS, Ways and Means Wins

(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Days after House Republican leaders promised that the chamber would investigate charges that the IRS disproportionately scrutinized applications by conservative groups, the Ways and Means Committee has scheduled a hearing for this Friday.

Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and ranking member Sander Levin, D-Mich., jointly announced on Monday afternoon that the Friday hearing would focus on the IRS’s “practice of discriminating against applicants for tax-exempt status based on the political leanings of the applicants.”

Members at that hearing will receive testimony from acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller and J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration who later this week is expected to release a formal report on the IRS’s alleged misconduct.

“The American public expects the Internal Revenue Service to be apolitical in its enforcement of our tax laws. News that the agency admits it targeted American taxpayers based on politics is both astounding and appalling,” Camp said in a statement announcing the hearing. “The Committee on Ways and Means will get to the bottom of this practice and ensure it never takes place again.”

“The American people must have the fullest confidence that organizations requesting tax exemption receive completely unbiased treatment from the Internal Revenue Service and are never singled out by name or political views,” added Levin, whose brother, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., called for an IRS investigation earlier in the day. “The nation deserves a complete understanding of this matter, and as Chairman Camp and I discussed this morning, it is essential that there be a thorough and bipartisan investigation and effective remedial action.”

Though the Ways and Means Committee is slated to be the first congressional committee to schedule a hearing on the matter, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee is also likely to weigh in sooner than later.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the panel responsible for rooting out waste, fraud and abuse by government agencies, was quick when news broke last Friday to pledge to launch a full investigation. On Monday, his ranking member, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., also indicated he would put his support behind Issa’s efforts.

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