Vote Explanations for H.R. 4890 and H.R. 3724

H.R. 4890 — To impose a ban on the payment of bonuses to employees at the IRS until the Secretary of the Treasury develops and implements a comprehensive customer service strategy

On its surface, H.R. 4890 appears to be a sensible bill aimed at improving the services that the IRS provides to millions of Americans each year.

There is undisputed evidence that customer service at the IRS has declined. Caller wait times have gone up while the percentage of callers who were able to receive live assistance from the IRS has declined dramatically. However, these negative trends are part of a larger story: Over the past five years, annual funding for the agency has decreased by over $1 billion. Consequently, the number of IRS staff assigned to answer customer calls and correspondence has declined by more than 18 percent.

If my Republican colleagues want the IRS to do a better job, then they shouldn’t ask them to do more with less. Instead, they should be providing the agency with adequate funding to efficiently and effectively serve its customers. This legislation is another Republican solution in search of a problem. That is why I voted against H.R. 4890.

H.R. 3724 — Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act

Today I voted to support H.R. 3724, which passed the U.S. House with strong bipartisan support 345–78. This legislation would prohibit the IRS from rehiring any employee who was previously dismissed for misconduct. This would include employees who are dismissed under civil service rules (such as failure to satisfy performance goals), as well those who were terminated for falsifying tax records to hide mistakes.

As the federal agency charged with enforcing tax collection and tax law, the IRS should ensure that its employees are held to the same standards as the taxpayer. While not the perfect fix, I believe this legislation will help maintain the integrity of the agency and the employees who work there.