Congressman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, voted today for legislation that would prohibit the administration from implementing new rules that seek to limit the activities and free speech of 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations. The Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2014 (H.R. 3865) would prevent for one year the Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from issuing or finalizing proposed regulations that would prohibit 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations from engaging in nonpartisan civic activities, such as voter registration drives, candidate forums, and get-out-the-vote efforts.
Today's vote follows last year's exposure of IRS actions to selectively target conservative-leaning organizations. A one-year delay of the proposed rule would allow for completion of the ongoing IRS targeting investigation and permit a thorough public discussion of the proposed regulation. H.R. 3865 passed the House today by a bipartisan vote of 243 to 176 and now awaits consideration in the Senate.
"Free speech is the lifeblood of our democracy. The federal government has a great responsibility to ensure that right is protected, whether or not the views expressed conform to those of the administration," said Upton. "These new regulations would stifle the rights of the very organizations that the IRS was recently exposed for targeting. This commonsense legislation puts the IRS's proposed rules on hold until Congress completes its investigation into the agency's recent abuses of power."
Upton is also a cosponsor of the Taxpayer Nondiscrimination and Protection Act of 2013 (H.R. 1950), which seeks to prevent biased, politically-motivated discrimination by increasing the maximum penalty for IRS employee misconduct against taxpayers.