Nearly half of the 72 Republicans who voted against a motion that effectively blocked a resolution to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen are a not part of the House Freedom Caucus.
The caucus has led the push to remove Koskinen.
One member of GOP leadership — Republican Policy Committee Chairman Luke Messer of Indiana — and several leadership allies voted against the motion, which referred the impeachment resolution back to the Judiciary Committee. Those included Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz, who filed the original resolution to impeach Koskinen more than a year ago, and South Dakota GOP Rep. Kristi Noem, who is a member of Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s advisory group.
Impeachment supporters argue that Koskinen lied to lawmakers and withheld information pertinent to congressional inquiries into allegations that the IRS targeted conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status.
Although a ‘no’ vote for referring the resolution back to committee signals support for moving forward with a floor vote on impeachment, it’s unclear whether all 72 members who voted against the resolution going back to the Judiciary Committee, where it has stalled, would vote to impeach Koskinen.
Rep. Daniel Webster told Roll Call that impeachment is a “drastic measure,” but that he believes there needs to be a response to the IRS targeting, and the agency’s stonewalling of congressional investigations.
Although Webster prefers “regular order,” in which legislation moves through the committee before coming to the floor, he said he thinks the Freedom Caucus’s decision to use a privileged resolution to bypass the Judiciary Committee was fair.
“Our rules have a procedure by which a privileged motion can be exercised, and for that I support our rules,” he said. “But I think it’s only for certain situations. And especially if we’re not going to have issues heard in committee, then [it’s OK to] try other means. And I think that’s what they did.”
Incoming Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker said in a statement that he supports impeaching Koskinen because “there is overwhelming evidence that he failed in performing his duties and misled Congress.”
“The American people deserve accountability in government,” Walker said. “The privileged and well-connected should not get to live and work by another standard; Koskinen’s deceit deserves consequence.”
Three members of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has primary jurisdiction for IRS oversight, also voted against sending the impeachment resolution back to the Judiciary Committee. Those three are Noem and Texas Republicans Sam Johnson and Kenny Marchant.
“I just think we need to get past this,” Marchant told Roll Call.
Although he believes the Judiciary Committee is serious about taking up the matter, Marchant said his constituents, who mostly favor impeaching Koskinen, would like to see a resolution now.
“I didn’t view it as a vote against regular order,” he said.