Tea party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, plans to take another run at restraining the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from targeting political enemies by introducing two new bills which were squelched by the Democrat-dominated Senate last year.
However, this year, under a Republican Senate, Cruz believes the bills have a better chance at passage.
"We should all agree the IRS should not be used as a tool for partisan warfare," Cruz said on his website.
"In May, 2013, President Obama declared the IRS’s illegal targeting of conservative groups 'intolerable and inexcusable,'" Cruz wrote, "yet to this date no one has been held accountable for it.
"The IRS has no business meddling with the First Amendment rights of Americans. Rather than further stifling free speech, the IRS and the Department of Justice should provide the American people with all the facts surrounding the IRS’s targeting of certain organizations based on their political activity."
One bill, co-sponsored
by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., would forbid the IRS to "willfully act, with the intent to injure, oppress, threaten, intimidate or single out and subject to undue scrutiny for purposes of harassment" any person or organization "based solely or primarily on the political, economic or social positions held" and calls for a fine, up to a 10-year prison sentence or both.
The second bill
would amend the tax code to "prohibit the Department of the Treasury from assigning tax statuses to organizations based on their political beliefs and activities" and turn that power over to the Federal Election Commission.
The FEC would "determine whether an organization is engaging in political activity, rather than allowing the IRS to continue making that distinction. The IRS should focus on taxation, not on determining what constitutes political activity," Cruz wrote.
Both bills also will be co-sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., Hot Air reports.
Cruz also noted that he plans to bring the issues up in confirmation hearings for President Obama's nominee for Attorney General, Loretta Lynch. "I look forward to Ms. Lynch’s responses to these very important issues at her upcoming confirmation hearings," Cruz noted.
The bills come as Republicans in Congress unveiled new legislation to block the IRS from changing guidelines for tax-exempt status for organizations until the end of 2017, introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, The Hill reports.
The bill will be introduced in the Senate by Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Az., and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., The Hill notes.
"Everyone deserves a fair standard fairly applied, and for too long, the IRS has targeted people because of their political beliefs. This bill will send a clear message. We won’t tolerate the agency’s shenanigans," Ryan said, The Hill reported.
Investigations into the IRS targeting of the tea-party-affiliated groups are ongoing.
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