Republicans file bills to defund the IRS and enact a national abortion ban

IRS threats

Congressional Republicans spent the last month spreading disinformation and fear-mongering about the Inflation Reduction Act and the influx of cash it will provide to the IRS. Sen. Rick Scott, a Florida Republican, sent a letter to the public in August warning constituents not to apply for jobs with the IRS and pledging to “defund” the jobs if Republicans gain control of Congress after the midterms.

More concerning than Scott trying to dissuade Americans from taking a job with the federal government, his letter claims that the IRS will use the new funding to hire thousands of armed agents and threaten Americans’ life and liberty.

The IRS is making it very clear that you not only need to be ready to audit and investigate your fellow hardworking Americans, your neighbors and friends, you need to be ready and, to use the IRS’s words, willing, to kill them.

His Republican colleagues aren’t trying to mitigate the senator’s incitement. They’re adding to it. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) echoed Scott on Twitter, where he claimed the “Democrats are making the IRS bigger than the Pentagon, the Department of State, the FBI, and the Border Patrol COMBINED! Those IRS agents will come after you, not billionaires and big corporations!”

The truth of the matter is that the hiring of new IRS agents is set to occur gradually over the next 10 years to replace the estimated 52,000 current agents past or close to retirement age. Only a small percentage, 2.4%, of the IRS’s 83,000 employees are empowered to investigate crimes and authorized to carry firearms. The Inflation Reduction Act does not seek to raise in any significant way the number of criminal investigation special agents.

A history of violence

The rhetoric used by Republicans like Scott and Cruz is not just misleading, it is dangerous. The IRS has long been a target of far-right extremists, who grew from a belief that tax laws are illegitimate to a complex ecosystem of conspiracies that the entire government is illegitimate. There have been nearly a dozen documented crimes against IRS agents since the start of the tax protest movement in the 1960s:

  • Gordon Kahl was a member of the Posse Comitatus movement, the precursor of modern anti-government groups. In 1967, Kahl notified the IRS that he refused to pay taxes and, a decade later, appeared on television to encourage others not to pay their income taxes. U.S. Marshals attempted to arrest Kahl in 1983. Kahl engaged in a shootout with the Marshals, killing two agents and injuring three other law enforcement officers.
  • Dean Harvey Hicks launched 13 bombs at an IRS office in California in 1991.
  • In 1993, an unidentified individual attempted to bomb an IRS office in Santa Barbara by pumping propane into the building.
  • Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols successfully bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in April 1995. IRS employees, among other government officials, worked in the building.
  • Charles Polk was arrested for plotting to blow up an IRS office in Austin, Texas, in July 1995.
  • Ellis Hurst and Joseph Bailie were arrested in December 1995 for attempting to bomb an IRS office in Reno, Nevada.
  • Brendon Blasz was arrested in 1997 for making pipe bombs to blow up the IRS building in Portage, Michigan. He was a member of the Michigan Militia Corps Wolverines.
  • Three men started a fire that destroyed the IRS office in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in May 1997.
  • Richard Van Hazel and Troy Coe were arrested in 1999 for the attempted kidnapping and murder of an accountant who provided testimony in a tax evasion case.
  • Rodney Lynn Randolph was arrested in 2000 for a suspected plot to attack the IRS. A search of his home found a hand grenade, bomb-making materials, automatic weapons parts, a .50-caliber antitank weapon, and 200,000 rounds of ammunition.
  • David J. D’Addabbo was arrested in 2006 for threatening Internal Revenue Service employees with “death by firing squad” if they continued to try to collect taxes from him and his wife.

Anti-IRS bills

Senate Bill 4798, introduced by Sen. Scott last week, rescinds all the funds appropriated to the IRS under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, the former Democrat from New Jersey, filed a similar bill in the House with 22 Republican co-sponsors: Reps. Nancy Mace (SC), Paul Gosar (AZ), Daniel Meuser (PA), Mike Carey (OH), Russ Fulcher (ID), Maria Salazar (FL), Randy Weber (TX), Darrell Issa (CA), Byron Donalds (FL), Markwayne Mullin (OK), Andy Harris (MD), Louie Gohmert (TX), Alexander Mooney (WV), Michael Guest (MS), Marian Miller-Meeks (IA), Earl Carter (GA), Don Bacon (NE), Brad Finstad (MN), Christopher Smith (NJ), Ralph Norman (SC), Brian Babin (TX), and John Moolenaar (MI).

Senate Bill 4817, introduced by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), bans the use of additional Internal Revenue Service funds from being used for audits of taxpayers with taxable incomes below $400,000. Co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley (IA), John Cornyn (TX), John Thune (SD), Richard Burr (NC), Pat Toomey (PA), Tim Scott (SC), Bill Cassidy (LA), James Lankford (OK), Steve Daines (MT), Rob Portman (OH), Todd Young (IN), Ben Sasse (NE), John Barrasso (WY), and Shelley Moore Capito (WV).

House Bill 8762, introduced by Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) last month, prohibits any officer or employee of the IRS hired after the bill’s enactment from possessing a firearm while performing official duties.

House Resolution 8759, introduced by Rep. Barry Moore (R-AL) last month, requires all IRS employees hired as a result of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 to serve 30 days with the Customs and Border Protection or Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the border. Republican Reps. Randy Weber (TX), Markwayne Mullin (OK), Jake Elizey (TX), and Jody Hice (GA) co-sponsored the bill.

Anti-abortion bills

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced legislation on Tuesday to ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with limited exceptions to “save the life of the pregnant woman.” It includes no exceptions for fetal anomalies, no matter how grave—most genetic and physical defects can only be detected after the 15th week of pregnancy. Additionally, Graham’s bill allows for abortion in cases of rape or incest only if physicians use a method that “provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive.” If the fetus is viable outside of the womb, doctors must induce labor rather than perform a dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Steve Daines (R-MT) signed on as cosponsors.

  • Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) introduced a companion bill in the House with 84 cosponsors.

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) introduced a bill to ban the use of federal funds to assist individuals in traveling to another state or country to receive an abortion. 28 Republicans signed on as cosponsors.

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) introduced legislation banning the use of federal funds by ICE or DHS to obtain an abortion for detained immigrants in another state. The bill includes exceptions if “the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term” and if “the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.” Nine Republican senators cosponsored the bill.

Other bills

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) introduced a bill to prohibit the EPA from monitoring methane emissions from livestock. “Farmers and ranchers – the people who work tirelessly to help feed America and the world – should not be subject to government surveillance as part of a broader effort to implement radical climate policies that would threaten their ability to operate,” said Thune. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) cosponsored the legislation.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced legislation to require the EPA and Dept. of Energy to set their offices’ air conditioning to 78 degrees, in an effort to highlight the “hypocrisy” of California officials suggesting that residents conserve power during heat waves.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a bill to criminalize under federal law the blocking of highways during a protest. The text of the bill has not yet been released. Cosponsored by Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND).

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced legislation to prohibit D.C. area schools from requiring a Covid-19 vaccine for students. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), James Lankford (R-OK), Roger Marshall (R-KS), James Inhofe (R-OK), Mike Braun (R-IN), Rick Scott (R-FL), and Josh Hawley (R-MO) signed on as cosponsors.