Freedom Caucus Moves to Force Vote on Impeaching IRS Chief

WASHINGTON (CQ-Roll Call/TNS) -
U.S. Rep. John Fleming (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)
U.S. Rep. John Fleming (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)

As expected, Rep. John Fleming of the House Freedom Caucus took a procedural step Tuesday to force a vote on whether to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

Fleming, R-La., stood on the floor with Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., at his side and read the impeachment resolution. The resolution was introduced under a privileged motion, meaning it bypasses committee and requires a floor vote.

The House now has two legislative days to consider the issue, with the vote expected Thursday. House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said the conference would meet Thursday morning to discuss Koskinen.

Fleming said Koskinen had made a “series of false and misleading statements” to House investigators and failed to fully cooperate with their requests for emails and other information related to a probe of the IRS’s handling of applications from conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

The Louisiana congressman, who is running for the Senate, said Koskinen’s statements and actions “warrant impeachment, trial and removal from office.”

Koskinen and his legal team have said the charges are “meritless” and contend House conservatives are denying him his due-process rights. They say the matter should be considered by the House Judiciary Committee, which has had two hearings, but Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., has not scheduled a vote.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testifying on Capitol Hill in February. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testifying on Capitol Hill in February. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Even if the impeachment resolution advances in the House, there is little chance it will attract two-thirds support in the Senate. Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, has said “it doesn’t have a chance over here.”

House Democrats will unanimously oppose the resolution to impeach Koskinen, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer told reporters Tuesday.

“Every Democrat is going to vote against that,” the Maryland Democrat said. “It is absolutely unjustified on the facts. It is unjustified by any kind of due process. It is unjustified in terms of personnel policy.”

Many Republicans also feel that impeachment is unjustified, he said. “In my opinion, the majority of Republicans think this is a wrong step to be suggesting,” Hoyer said, noting he’s talked to lawmakers who feel this way.

Asked if Democrats would help those hesitant Republicans by offering a motion to table the resolution, Hoyer said, “We’ll see … I don’t know what they’re going to do yet, so I don’t have a strategy. I have a number of different alternative strategies in my mind.”

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(Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.)