The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee passed a resolution Wednesday by a 23-15 vote to censure IRS Commissioner Josh Koskinen.
The vote, which went along party lines, comes a week prior to the House Judiciary Committee’s second hearing on Koskinen’s possible impeachment.
The censure resolution claims that Koskinen made false statements under oath and did not properly comply with a subpoena issued in connection with Congress’s investigation into allegations that the IRS targeted tax-exempt conservative groups.
This alleged targeting was done before Koskinen was with the IRS. In fact, Koskinen, a longtime government employee, had been retired until being urged by President Obama to return to public service and take over the scandal-ridden agency.
The resolution demands Koskinen resign or be impeached, though it only recommends and doesn’t mandate he forfeit his pension.
Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who introduced the resolution and an impeachment resolution
called both resolutions a “necessary repercussion” for Koskinen.
“We owe it to the American people to ensure their government officials are held accountable for misconduct,” said Chaffetz. “Because of Mr. Koskinen, the American people will never know why their first amendment rights were violated.”
Censure requires only House action, but impeachment requires the Senate to act as well and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has said that will not happen.
Democrats say the censure is a “travesty,” arguing that Koskinen merely made incorrect statements based on his knowledge at the time and was not purposely lying.
“There was no politically motivated targeting at the IRS, there was no lying to Congress, there was no obstruction of justice. It simply didn’t happen,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the committee’s top Democrat.
Cummings claimed Koskinen is an “honorable man” and pointed out that the Department of Justice and a Republican-appointed inspector general found nothing to act on.
Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., tried to add an amendment to wipe almost everything out of the resolution in favor of text about the IG’s findings and a statement that the House believes Koskinen should keep his pension and “is an honorable public servant who has been extraordinarily cooperative with Congress, the Inspector General, and the Department of Justice.”
Cartwright’s efforts did not succeed, with Chaffetz saying the IG and DOJ were not looking at Koskinen’s comments and
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, adding that proclaiming Koskinen an “honorable public servant” is “ridiculous.”
For his part, Koskinen believes none of these resolutions are justified, telling reporters last week that “if there’s no basis in the facts for an impeachment resolution, then I don’t think there’s any basis for a censure resolution.” He plans on finishing his term, which ends November 2017.
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew defended Koskinen as “an outstanding public servant of the highest integrity with decades of experience leading both public and private institutions.”
h/t: The Hill