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Public Statements

Contracting and Tax Accountability Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

H.R. 882, the Contracting and Tax Accountability Act of 2013, is, in fact, a broadly bipartisan bill introduced by Mr. Chaffetz of Utah and Ms. Speier of California. They recognize that, in fact, contractors and, in a companion bill, individual Federal employees have a high standard, a high responsibility, and one of the least of those responsibilities is to pay their taxes in a timely fashion.

Sadly, we discover that, on occasions, we find ourselves with contractors who have not met that responsibility. Most often, those contractors, by not meeting that responsibility, may have, in fact, not deposited the withholding of the very workers who are working on our behalf.

This kind of irresponsible behavior, although not always found, is found often enough that GSA contractors are estimated to owe over $3 billion in taxes that are in arrears, and nearly $1.4 billion seriously in arrears.

The bill makes tax compliance both a prerequisite for receiving a contract or being an agent and, in fact, recognizes that those who do not make good on their taxes may, in fact, be seen as eligible for potential suspension or debarment.

Federal contractors, for the most part, do comply and they do comply very well. But I believe that what Ms. Speier and Chairman Chaffetz have done is recognize that we must have zero tolerance for people who, even after being recognized, and who are seriously behind and delinquent, continue to resist paying their just taxes.

Again, often these taxes have nothing to do with a debate about income tax but, rather, withholding that simply wasn't done. These kinds of contractors are, by definition, the ones also likely to not live up to the high standard that the taxpayers expect by our contractors.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I made a decision to bring these two bills separately, rather than combine them, for a reason. This is not controversial, but failed to get through the Senate. The other bill has some controversy. But I'd like to say that in fact I believe that both bills would tell the American people--both the one related to contractors and the next one we'll be considering related to Federal employees--that we hold ourselves to the standard that the American people, the American taxpayer, expects us to.

So although I know that Ms. Norton does not support the next bill, but with the kind of vigor and optimism and positive discussion that we've heard on the previous two bills and on this, I would say that the important thing for all of us to understand is the money here is significant; but the principle of holding our contractors, and in the next bill ourselves, responsible to a high level of integrity and not having those continue without us taking note of it, I think offers the same statement to the American people at a time of sequestration, at a time in which we're questioning how much we can afford from our government.

For that reason, I want these bills to be considered separately. I intend to vote for both of them. I believe both of them have merit for the same reason; but I do thank my colleagues on the other side because this bill, I believe, is truly without controversy and would be without controversy. I ask all of those here to note that we, on a unanimous basis, support H.R. 882. I ask its support, and I yield back the balance of my time.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from California (Mr. Issa) that the House suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 882, as amended.

The question was taken.

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