As Congress reconvenes, Republicans in Iowa are backing measures they say will control the bill’s impact on lowering inflation.
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst announced this week that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, has accepted her request to audit Internal Revenue Service employees. Hundreds of IRS employees, including tax collectors and criminal investigators, failed to pay their own taxes, Ernst said, including 300 employees who are “repeat offenders.”
“We have a real problem if the IRS staff who enforce the tax law aren’t paying their own taxes and can’t even figure out how to properly complete their own tax forms,” Ernst told the Senate Thursday.
The audit request comes as the IRS prepares for expansion through the Cut Inflation Act, the $740 million spending bill signed into law in August. The legislation, which also includes green energy incentives and limits on pharmaceutical costs, increases the IRS budget by nearly $80 billion over a decade. Most of that funding, more than $45 billion, will go toward expanding the app — hiring more IRS agents, providing legal support and improving technology to enforce financial laws.
Ernst called on President Joe Biden to reconsider hiring 87,000 IRS agents and instead tackle the service’s “double standards.” She cited TIGTA reports from 2017 and 2019 that found the IRS rehired previously terminated employees and did “little” to discipline others who failed to file federal tax returns. If even IRS agents don’t know how to properly file their taxes, she said, simplifying the tax code should take priority over enforcement.
“Washington’s misplaced priorities create problems for the rest of America,” Ernst said. “No one in Iowa I talk to is asking for IRS auditors anymore.”
Other Republican congressional leaders in Iowa also pushed back against the Inflation Reduction Act. US Representative Ashley Hinson said the best way to fight inflation, which rose again in August according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, is for the government to cut costs.
“Everything has gotten more expensive since President Biden took office and spent trillions of dollars on wasteful spending,” Hinson said in a statement. “Despite high prices that are hurting family budgets and forcing people to dip into savings to stay afloat, President Biden and President Pelosi can’t seem to stop spending.”
Iowa reps support veterans care bills
Both parties’ Iowa U.S. Representative welcomed legislation passed by the U.S. House earlier this week to improve veterans’ benefits. The five bills include measures updating the VA’s home loan assessment process, increasing claim rates for some benefits to reflect inflation, and extending the deadline for educational disbursements of GI bills.
U.S. Representatives Randy Feenstra and Mariannette Miller-Meeks both voted for all five bills.
“As a grateful nation, we must always ensure that our veterans and their families receive the highest quality health care, education and benefits they rightfully deserve,” Feenstra said in a statement. press release on legislation.
U.S. Representative Cindy Axne, Iowa’s only elected Democrat in Washington, backed one of the pieces of legislation that passed: the Faster Veterans Survivor Payments Act. In 2020, the VA estimated that nearly 15,000 people whose family members died in service owed more than $155 million in uncash life insurance benefits. The law aims to modernize the process for finding and paying survivors of deceased VA veterans while shortening the time it takes for the department to contact and pay beneficiaries.
Axne said getting the money owed to veterans’ family members is “the least we can do” to honor their military service.
“Our country’s veterans have dedicated their lives to serving our country, and the last thing they should worry about is whether their families will be financially secure when they die,” Axne said in a statement.
When the legislation passed, Miller-Meeks drew attention to a resolution she co-sponsored earlier this year designating the week of Sept. 18 as “Gold Star Families’ Remembrance Week.” Gold Star families are immediate family members of a military service member who has died in conflict. These actions honor and help both service members and their families, she said.
“As a veteran, one of my top priorities in Congress has been to improve support for our men and women in uniform during and after their service,” Miller-Meeks said in a statement. “Our service members are risking their lives to defend our freedoms, and we must do everything in our power to facilitate their transition to civilian life.”