News & Politics

House Freedom Caucus Moves to Force Vote on IRS Commissioner's Impeachment

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, testifies before a Senate Finance Committee hearing (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The House Freedom Caucus flexed its muscles today by pushing to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for lying to Congress and failing to comply with a lawful subpoena. The move has been resisted by House Speaker Paul Ryan and other senior Republicans, prompting House conservatives to force a vote. According to The Hill, Rep. John Fleming, R-La., filed a privileged resolution Thursday morning to impeach Koskinen, almost guaranteeing a vote in September.

House rules state that “privileged” measures must be acted on within two legislative days — meaning action is likely after Labor Day.

The House is expected to adjourn for a seven-week recess later Thursday afternoon.

Any pro forma sessions, during which no legislative business is conducted, that are held over the recess will constitute legislative days that count toward the resolution’s expiration. Consequently, the motion could expire as soon as next week while the House is out of session.

That means the Freedom Caucus would have to give re-notice of the resolution at a later date so a vote could still occur in September.

“[The Freedom Caucus] is committed to have this fully addressed and a vote taken that reflects the voice of millions of Americans. It is our hope that a prudent schedule to fully address this issue will be set forth by our leadership,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told The Hill.

Speaker Ryan has resisted conservative calls to initiate impeachment proceedings, leading the House Freedom Caucus to force a vote. Ryan and other senior Republicans  worry that a vote to impeach an administration official would set a “bad precedent.”  It’s a valid concern. While Republicans would have no trouble establishing that Koskinen is guilty of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” of which he’s accused, if Democrats had the majority, they would use such a precedent to punish Republican officials with whom they have policy differences.

 Ryan told reporters that Republicans would settle on a strategy after returning from recess. “Some of these members have focused on it quite a bit, that’s why they’re bringing attention to the issue. When we return from our work period, we’ll talk about it as a family,” he said.