The ‘Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by IRS Act’ is Introduced by 39 GOP SenatorsPosted by Jared Day on February 13, 2014
Thirty-nine Republican senators introduced a bill yesterday that would prohibit the IRS from targeting conservative groups.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) today introduced S. 2011, The Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act. Co-sponsors of the bill include Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and thirty-four additional Senators.
Under current law, 501(c)(4) organizations, or social welfare groups, can engage in political activities on a limited basis so long as their primary activity is the promotion of social welfare. Last November, the IRS proposed new regulations that would fundamentally alter the nature of the activities that these organizations can engage in, limiting their free speech rights, and effectively forcing grassroots organizations across the country to shut down. The final regulations are due to take effect right before the 2014 midterm elections.
The Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act, which also passed out of a House committee, would freeze the finalization of the rule for one year and restore the 501(c)(4) standards and definitions that were in place before conservative groups started to come under extra scrutiny in 2010.
“The proposed IRS rule is overly broad and would codify the IRS’ ability to attack certain groups, opening the door to further encroachment on Americans’ First Amendment rights,” Roberts explained. “It is clear the IRS has no capacity to regulate political activity without running roughshod over people’s fundamental constitutional rights. As a result, our legislation is very simple — we simply halt further action on the proposed regulations until the Justice Department and congressional investigations into the IRS actions are complete. We don’t need the IRS regulating constitutionally guaranteed free speech.”
Flake said on the floor that the number of public comments received on the rule is the most ever received by a government agency.
“Clearly, the public sees through the administration’s veiled attempt to squash free speech and shut down opposition to its priorities,” the Arizona senator said.
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