Washington, D.C. – Alaska Congressman Don Young shared the following statement on House passage of H.R. 5485, Fiscal Year 2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, legislation that provides annual funding for the Treasury Department, the Judiciary, the Small Business Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other related agencies:
“Transparency and accountability are paramount to ensuring our federal agencies, particularly those entrusted with American’s tax dollars, are held to the highest of standards and operate in the best interest of the American people,” said Congressman Young. “In order to safeguard the American people, this legislation makes important reforms to improve the IRS, eliminate red tape for consumers, improve spending accountability and support small businesses. By building upon previous years’ efforts, which included measures to prevent the wasteful use of taxpayer dollars and the unlawful targeting of political groups, we continue a balanced approach for funding government, while ensuring the American people see real added benefit for economic opportunity and job creation.”
Important funding measures included in the bill:
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – The bill provides $10.9 billion for the IRS – a cut of $236 million below the fiscal year 2016 enacted levels. This holds the agency’s budget to below the 2008 level, but provides sufficient resources to perform its core duties.
The bill maintains current spending – $2.1 billion – for Taxpayer Services. In addition, the bill provides an additional $290 million to improve customer service, including phone call and correspondence response times, fraud prevention and cybersecurity.
The IRS has been plagued in recent years by the inappropriate actions of its employees and political leadership, resulting in the waste of taxpayer dollars and in unjust treatment and targeting of certain ideological groups. To address concerns related to these transgressions, the bill includes:
A prohibition on a proposed regulation related to political activities and the tax-exempt status of 501(c)(4) organizations. The proposed regulation could jeopardize the tax-exempt status of many nonprofit organizations and inhibit citizens from exercising their right to freedom of speech;
- A prohibition on funds for bonuses or to rehire former employees unless employee conduct and tax compliance is given consideration;
- A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs;
- A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights;
- A prohibition on funds for the production of inappropriate videos and conferences;
- A prohibition on funds for the White House to order the IRS to determine the tax-exempt status of an organization; and
- A requirement for extensive reporting on IRS spending.
Small Business Administration (SBA) – The bill contains $883 million for the SBA to help promote opportunities for American small businesses to begin, grow, and thrive. This includes full funding – $157 million – to support $28.5 billion in 7(a) small business loans and $7.5 billion in 504 small business loans.
Also included is full funding ($186 million) for disaster loan implementation to allow for quick loan processing turnaround when unexpected natural disasters strike, and full funding ($12.3 million) for veterans programs. In addition, the legislation provides funding above the President’s request for Small Business Development Centers ($125 million), State Trade and Export Promotion ($20 million), and Women’s Business Centers ($19 million).
Affordable Care Act (ACA): The bill also includes provisions to stop the IRS from further implementing ObamaCare, including a prohibition on any transfers of funding from the Department of Health and Human Services to the IRS for ObamaCare uses, and a prohibition on funding for the IRS to implement an individual insurance mandate on the American people.