Policy: Entitlements

House this week to take on IRS and Obama regulations, executive actions

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Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio,Barack Obama,Entitlements,IRS,PennAve,Government Regulation

House Republicans this week will commence an onslaught of legislation and hearings targeting perceived overreach by the Obama Administration, including bills that aim to curb intrusive oversight of political groups by the Internal Revenue Service and a hearing examining President Obama's use of executive authority.

The House will also consider a flood insurance bill that is likely to scale back a recent law intended to reform the program, which is $24 billion in debt.

The Senate, meanwhile, will hold a critical test vote Monday on a comprehensive reform plan for veterans benefits and services that includes restoration of recently planned cuts to military pensions. The bill is likely to lack the minimal Republican support needed to move forward, however, because it does not include offsets and adds to the deficit.

When the House gavels into session on Tuesday, it will first consider a measure sponsored by Rep. Pete Roskam, R-Ill., that would prohibit the IRS from asking taxpayers questions about “religious, political or social beliefs.”

The bill comes in response to an internal IRS audit, released last year, that found the agency had been singling out for special scrutiny groups seeking non-profit status who were affiliated with the Tea Party or were conservative.

Later in the week the House will consider another bill, sponsored by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., which would place a year-long hold on a new IRS regulation banning certain non-profit groups from engaging in voter registration, candidate forums and other political activity, a prohibition many in the GOP believe is aimed specifically at silencing nonprofit conservative groups.

The House will also vote on a bill sponsored by Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., that would broaden and strengthen the nation’s Freedom of Information Act, known as FOIA.

Issa’s legislation, for example, would require the government to provide information “in an electronic and publicly accessible format.”

The bill would also call for the creation of a website the public could use to file FOIA requests and it strengthens oversight of FOIA compliance.

Issa has criticized the Obama administration’s response to FOIA requests and has found that many agencies are not even able to track requests, never mind respond to them.

This week’s agenda follows House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s memo to Republicans last week outlining a winter legislative schedule that seeks to blunt what he called Obama’s “imperial presidency.”

The president has said he will go around Congress, in particular the Republican House, by using executive authority to push forward his agenda.

Cantor, R-Va., highlighted in the memo a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday that will examine what Congress can do to enforce “the president’s constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws.”

The hearing is aimed at examining Obama’s decisions to loosen deportation law and delay parts of the health care reform law, among other actions.

The House will also consider:

— A measure that would require every government agency to provide an annual itemized list of expenditures and performance statistics, including any areas of duplication.

— A bill that would require the IRS to respond to taxpayer correspondence within 30 days and to notify taxpayers if their information has been given to any other government entity.

— A bill that would make state or local governments ineligible for federal economic funds for two years if a court determines they have inappropriately used eminent domain to claim private property for commercial development.

— A bill that would restructure the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau so that it is overseen by an appointed five-member commission and its regulations are easier to undo.

— Legislation that would require federal agencies to disclose on a monthly basis the status of pending regulations as well as “an estimate of the economic effects.”

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