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Issa Schedules IRS Hearing

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee has scheduled a hearing for next week on allegations of misconduct within the IRS, the panel’s chairman, Darrell Issa, confirmed Wednesday.

The California Republican announced the May 22 hearing date to a small group of reporters following a weekly meeting of the House GOP Conference.

It will come just days after the hearing the Ways and Means Committee has set for this Friday.

However, Issa stressed that the two panels would ultimately be seeking answers to different questions relating to charges that the IRS disproportionately targeted the applications of conservative groups with certain signifiers, such as “tea party,” in their names.

“There are a number of various ways in which Ways and Means has unique jurisdiction,” Issa explained of the committee responsible for overseeing the nation’s tax policies, among other things, “but I think for the American people, they want the facts of transparency.

“The items that only Ways and Means can formally see … the public can’t see,” he continued. “Our hearing is intended to be all about the public having full access. Any transcribed interview we do will be public, and as you know our committee has the ability to call witnesses … the [inspector general] could not speak to.”

One of the limitations of the law governing general agency inspector generals, Issa said, is that an inspector general can only require current employees from his or her branch to testify on certain matters or disclose sensitive information. The Oversight and Government Reform Committee, meanwhile, can call up any witness it wants.

Issa said he expects his panel’s hearing to be bipartisan, as ranking member Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., earlier this week expressed his desire to officially investigate the matter. The same should be true for the Ways and Means Committee, with chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and ranking member Sander M. Levin, D-Mich., jointly convening Friday’s hearing.

House Republican leadership is also throwing its full support for congressional action into the allegations, especially following Tuesday’s release of the hotly anticipated report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration that would appear to confirm allegations.

“My question isn’t about who’s going to have to resign,” Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said at a news conference Wednesday morning. “It’s about who’s going to have to go to jail.”

Issa, who often touts his committee as the “watchdog” and “whistle-blower” of Capitol Hill, also signaled his impression that officials should be punished for hurting the people they are supposed to be helping

“In this case, the term ‘whistle-blower’ may not exist,” Issa said, responding to a reporter’s question as to whether his hearing next week will include testimony from those within the IRS who reported instances of misconduct. “What you actually have is victims.”

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