As conservative leaders suggested the IRS scandal be tied to denying tax dollars to implement Obamacare, Republican House members moved quickly to say the two issues were distinct and should be pursued separately.
If there is an effort to link the two issues, one Republican lawmaker told Newsmax, "then people will perceive the Internal Revenue Service investigations as a political witch-hunt and we'll pay for it."
The recent investigations of IRS hostility toward conservative groups opposed to the president have fueled anger on the right toward both the tax-collection agency and Obamacare, which the IRS has a great deal of responsibility to administer.
To tie the two causes -- thwarting the IRS and stopping Obamacare implementation -- seemed a natural link to some conservatives. Erick Erickson of RedState said as much last week.
"We have a recipe in this for a conservative resurgence," Erickson wrote in his much-read blog. "They tried to shut down the conservative movement and we should now use these actions to shut down Obamacare."
But, as they were leaving Washington on Friday, conservative House Republicans were telling Newsmax: "Not so fast."
"The [conservative] base is mad because of the recent scandal involving the IRS and wants us to do something about it," two-term Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois told Newsmax. "But the hearings into abuses of power by the IRS should be more about getting an answer as to what happened and who's responsible.
"If Republicans in Congress use this as an opportunity to stop Obamacare, then people will perceive the IRS investigations as a political witch-hunt and we'll pay for it," Kinzinger said.
"I tend to agree with that," said freshman Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia. "The link between the IRS scandal and it being the chief agency behind implementing Obamacare was made in the debate before our vote to repeal last week. The IRS is one of the major players in Obamacare. But I'm not sure how far it ... should go to link the IRS investigation and Obamacare repeal."
"I'm very concerned about the IRS used as a political arm against opponents of the administration," Kinzinger said. "But that and the effort to stop Obamacare from being implemented are two different issues and should proceed down two different tracks."
Both Collins and Kinzinger were elected with strong tea party support in their initial races.
Newsmax also found that the desire to approach the IRS investigation as distinct from efforts to stop Obamacare was echoed by more senior House Republicans as well.
When Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, secretary of the House Republican Conference, was asked if that was the sentiment of GOP lawmakers as a whole, she replied: "Yes, I very much agree with that, and so do many of the members of the conference."
"From the beginning, Speaker [John] Boehner has made it clear we were going to put a strong emphasis on oversight and we have done that," Foxx said. "Oversight is something we care about when it comes to any government agency and we will continue to pursue this as a policy."
She added that the effort to deny funding to implement Obamacare was also something Republican lawmakers would focus on, but, echoing Kinzinger and Collins, Foxx emphasized, "this is a separate issue."
The congresswoman continued: "The reasons for pursuing Obamacare's repeal extend well beyond the fact that it will empower and enlarge the IRS."
"House Republicans have been working for three years to repeal Obamacare because jobs matter, patient choice matters, and affordable health insurance matters, and Obamacare undermines all three."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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