September 15, 2016; Politico
Press reports indicate that House conservatives and moderates have reached a deal to avoid a floor vote on impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Under the arrangement, the privileged resolution introduced earlier this week would be withdrawn, and the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next Wednesday with Koskinen as sole witness. The compromise allows GOP moderates to avoid an immediate vote on impeachment while giving conservatives the opportunity to grill Koskinen under oath about what they see as his efforts to obstruct Congressional and other investigations into the IRS scandal while giving him what moderates characterize as “due process.”
With all House Democrats opposing impeachment and GOP members split on the issue, it was highly unlikely that the privileged resolution for impeachment would pass. This provided House GOP moderates with leverage to make a deal. On the other hand, a “no” vote on impeachment was being characterized as a vote in support of the IRS, a perennially unpopular federal agency. With elections only weeks away, supporting the IRS against GOP conservatives was unpalatable, thereby giving conservatives leverage to force a hearing.
Any vote on impeachment would be delayed until after the November elections, meaning that the House would reconvene in a “lame duck” session in late November or early December.
As NPQ reported on the impeachment prospects in a previous newswire, the impeachment vote is more symbolic than real, owing to its partisan nature and, especially, the near impossibility of an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate resulting in Koskinen’s conviction and removal from office. The next president and a new Congress will take office in January, presenting the perfect chance for the 77-year old IRS Commissioner to resign his post for reasons unrelated to the scandal and impeachment threat and allow a new commissioner to take office and, we hope, allow focus to move to the IRS’s funding and programmatic needs—not least of which is addressing nonprofit regulation and oversight.—Michael Wyland