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Public Statements

Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2015

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ROSKAM. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, we have had a great deal of discussion today on the floor about the activity of the IRS, and these stories have been known to us. We have had a great deal of testimony--hours and hours and hours of testimony--in the Ways and Means Committee overseen by Chairman Camp.

What we know is this: that the IRS has grossly overstepped its bounds in asking questions of groups filing for tax-exempt status that go so far as to ask about the content of an organization's prayers.

Now, think about this, Mr. Chairman. The First Amendment to the Constitution has as its first freedom our freedom of religion in this country, and what have we seen? We have seen the Internal Revenue Service reach its long arm into different tax-exempt organizations and have made inquiries about what is happening as it relates to prayers.

Here is an example, Mr. Chairman, that I have. This is a document, official document from the Internal Revenue Service, Department of the Treasury, et cetera, et cetera, to the Coalition for Life of Iowa. Under Penalties of Perjury, on page 2, Mr. Chairman, of this official document from the Internal Revenue Service, the IRS asked this in writing:

Please explain in detail the activities at these prayer meetings. Also, provide the percentage of your time with organizations spent on prayer groups as compared with other activities of the organization.

Mr. Chairman, are you kidding me?

The Internal Revenue Service is using its power and its influence to try and intimidate organizations, organizations that have as their base the faith that they freely wish to extend and they wish to communicate. Some lists were lists of questions that the IRS was so onerous that they asked for list after list after list.

Here is another one. They went after a group and they said, well, tell us all about whether each person, board member, officer, key employee, or member of their family, has, was, or plans to be a candidate for public office.

Now, of all the ridiculous inquiries. Do you know what that tells me? It tells me, Mr. Chairman, the enforcement division of the IRS has too much money, that is what it tells me.

What I am trying to do with this amendment is to follow up on action that the House has already taken, and a House that took this action unanimously not long ago in February by passing a bill that I introduced, Protecting Taxpayers from Intrusive IRS Requests Act, that is now pending in the other body.

I am very simply trying to get the attention of the Internal Revenue Service, the attention of the employees, the attention of the Commissioner that is all to say that you don't have this kind of authority; and if you have got this kind of money to spend messing around with American groups and so forth, and as the Internal Revenue Service is now declaring itself to be the entity that decides who gets to participate in the public square and who doesn't get to participate in the public square, then they clearly have too much money.

Very simply, Mr. Chairman, here is what I am trying to do. I am trying to take money out of that enforcement fund, which excludes the exempt services, which has been up to their eyeballs in this whole mess, and direct it over to an area that can actually defend taxpayers.

I urge its consideration.


Mr. ROSKAM. Mr. Chairman, there is no need to attack the IRS if the IRS doesn't attack the American public. The IRS is the manipulator. The IRS is the entity that used this power of manipulation to ask this question:

Explain in detail the activities at your prayer meetings.

That is nothing that the IRS has anything to do with. That is nothing that they should have anything to do with.

And I am not for a second saying that we need to continue to go after the IRS until the IRS says, Here's all the emails, we've come clean, and so forth, but somehow the IRS being a victim here, I don't know. The IRS is no victim. The people that are being targeted unfairly are the victims. When they sought to assert their First Amendment right, Mr. Chairman, they are the victims.

I am not asking you to accept every amendment. I am just asking you to accept the Roskam amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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