In the absence of a federal budget for fiscal year (FY) 2016, the Senate on September 30 approved, by a 78-to-20 margin, a measure to fund the federal government, including the IRS, through December 11, 2015. The House followed suit, approving the measure by a vote of 277 to 151. Current funding was slated to run out on October 1. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation.
The Senate used a House bill, HR 719, as a legislative vehicle for the Continuing Resolution (CR), which will maintain funding for the federal government at its current level. In order to avoid another deadline when the CR expires in December or a potential government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, have already begun budget negotiations with President Obama. “We should have started this process months ago, but better late than never,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. McConnell said the Senate would immediately turn to appropriations bills.
Prior to the Senate vote, Senate Budget Committee ranking member Patty Murray, D-Wash., said she hoped lawmakers in the future could avoid a last-minute extension as they have done in recent years. “So once the Senate finishes the work to keep the government from shutting down, and once House Republicans accept at the very last minute that they need to do the same….I am hoping this next deadline can be different,” said Murray. “I am hoping we can avoid the drama, avoid the countdown clocks, avoid the absurd last-minute swerve.”
House and Senate appropriators have already approved cuts in the IRS’s budget for FY 2016. The Senate Appropriations Committee on July 23 approved the FY 2016 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill, which includes funding levels for the IRS (TAXDAY, 2015/07/24, C.2). The bill would provide $10.475 billion for the IRS for FY 2016, a cut of $470 million below the FY 2015 enacted level. That bill, however, requires $2.247 billion be spent on taxpayer services, an increase of $90 million.
House appropriators on June 17 approved its FY 2016 appropriations bill to provide $20.2 billion in annual funding for the Treasury Department, the Judiciary, the Small Business Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission and several other agencies (TAXDAY, 2015/06/18, C.1). The measure includes $10.1-billion to fund the IRS for FY 2016, which represents a cut of approximately $838 million, compared to FY 2015.
By Jeff Carlson, Wolters Kluwer News Staff