Republicans have big plans if they win control of the House of Representatives. They plan to launch an almost immediate oversight of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Three Republicans are vying to lead the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade policy and taxes in the House. They each aim to keep shedding light on the IRS’s practices and conduct as a top priority.
“Democrats have invested $80 billion into the agency to hire 87,000 new IRS agents. Everyone is worried about what these IRS agents will do, and we’re committed to holding the agency accountable,” said Florida Republican Representative Vern Buchanan, the most senior committee member seeking to lead the committee.
Buchanan’s view is shared by the two other Republican lawmakers competing for the top position: Representatives Adrian Smith of Nebraska and Jason Smith of Missouri. Smith is considered the closest competitor to Buchanan for the spot and argued that even without money pouring into the IRS by the Biden administration, it would remain a key target for oversight.
“The American people are demanding oversight of this administration. Over the years, they’ve seen an IRS that has targeted conservatives. They’ve seen an IRS that has allowed taxpayer information to be leaked for political gain,” said Smith, the current top GOP member on the House Budget Committee.
Republicans aren’t just looking to generate news coverage and hold hearings if they day the majority in the November midterms. Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, from California, has pledged that the first bill Congress will undertake in January is one written by Adrian Smith, which aims to slash the IRS.
“I think it’s important that we strategically lay this out in a way that we can get some results through legislation to prevent these bad things from happening again,” Adrian Smith emphasized.
The Republicans seeking to lead the Ways and Means Committee quickly pointed out that the committee would investigate more than only hiring additional IRS agents. They emphasized the panel would look for answers as to why there have been such delays in issuing tax refunds and why document backlogs still bog down the agency.
“People are claiming the IRS is using equipment from the 1970s to process returns,” Buchanan said. “Issues like that are ripe for oversight. So is the level of fraud and taxpayer waste stemming from the agency.”
Fighting aggression by China high priority
The two Smiths and Buchanan said that fighting aggression by China is another top priority outside of IRS oversight. Republicans want to use the committee’s power over trade and tax policy to block any companies from receiving taxpayer subsidies under the control of the Chinese Communist Party.
“We need strong oversight over woke corporations that have shed their American identities and become beholden to China,” Jason Smith said. “These companies are still demanding handouts from American taxpayers and preferential tax treatment.”
GOP members hope that tweaking the tax code to stop rewarding China-linked companies and strengthening trade laws will win bipartisan support. Some pointed out that the Democrat congressional leadership has urged President Biden to mandate new disclosure guidelines on Chinese investment inside the U.S.
“We’ve been talking about China stealing our technology for 20 years. It’s still going on today; I think there’s a lot of appetite to crack down on China,” said Buchanan.
The highest Republican position on the Ways and Means Committee opened up when Representative Kevin Brady of Texas decided to retire. The panel was also given another surprise when California Republican Representative Devin Nunes, Brady’s presumed successor, resigned last year for a position with former President Donald Trump’s media company.