Two Democratic former Treasury secretaries are urging Congress to provide some $14 billion in base annual funding for the Internal Revenue Service, in line with what the Biden administration has requested.
In a Washington Post op-ed, Robert Rubin and Jack Lew —who led the Treasury Department under Presidents Clinton and Obama, respectively — defend the Inflation Reduction Act passed by Democrats this year and the $80 billion in additional IRS funding it provides over 10 years. Republicans have claimed misleadingly that the funding will be used to create an army of auditors targeting the middle class. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California has said that reversing the IRS funding will be a top priority for his party as it takes control of the chamber in January.
Rubin and Lew look beyond that threat, noting that President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats can block any Republican effort to cut the $80 billion. But, they warn, “House Republicans have a fallback option: targeting the agency’s base appropriation in must-pass legislation to keep the government operating.”
In other words, Republicans may target the IRS’s annual budget, forcing the agency to use its new supplemental funding to cover basic operations. That’s why they urge Congress to provide the IRS with annual funding “as close as possible” to the $14 billion requested by the Biden administration.
“Congressional appropriators are currently negotiating a year-end package to fund the government. They should vigorously oppose any attempts to derail the ongoing effort to rebuild the IRS by reducing regular annual funding,” Rubin and Lew write.