By CLINT FOSTER
WASHINGTON D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives voted on several bills this week to curb government overreach and reform federal operations. Texas Republican Mike Conaway spoke on the House floor Thursday in support of what House Republicans called “Stop Government Abuse Week.”
According to a press release issued by Conaway’s office, the week, filled with conservative legislation, was highlighted by 10 bills that passed, all targeting federal agencies. Some of the bills included a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Government Customer Service Improvement Act and many others aimed directly at the Internal Revenue Service.
According to the release, one bill was designed exclusively to prevent the IRS from implementing any portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It marked the GOP’s 40th attack on the president’s signature health care law.
All the bills were designed by Republicans, with the intent of holding government agencies accountable to the voting public in light of the many recent federal scandals, the release said.
Conaway – who represents Texas’ 11th Congressional District, including Mineral Wells – said on the House floor he is proud of what Congress is doing with the legislation.
“Our message to the administration is quite simple: no more wasted tax dollars, no more abuse of power by federal agencies,” he said. “The federal government must be accountable to the American people, not un-elected bureaucrats.”
One bill that Conaway, Chairman of the Ethics Committee, voiced his strong support for was the Employee Accountability Act, led by Republican Mike Kelly from Pennsylvania. The bill will allow government agencies to place employees on unpaid leave when they are under investigation for serious offenses. On the House floor, Conaway explained that, right now, if a senior employee is placed under investigation for serious misconduct, they essentially are rewarded with an extended paid vacation.
“That’s the case with IRS official Lois Lerner, who took the Fifth Amendment in testifying before Congress,” Conaway continued. “She’s now on paid leave while Congress continues the agency’s misconduct investigation.”
The Employee Accountability Act was combined with the Common Sense in Compensation Act, which limits the number of senior employees who can receive bonuses each year, and Citizen Empowerment Act, which ensures individuals the right to record meetings with regulatory officials, to form the Stop Government Abuse Act. The omnibus bill passed 239 to 176 on Thursday.
IRS regulations were at the forefront of many of the proposed bills. According to Conaway’s release, House Republicans want to punish the government agency for its hand in targeting conservative organizations with unfair taxes and leaking confidential taxpayer information. Conaway’s release also stated “House republicans are committed to restraining runaway government and reempowering citizens.”
“We’re sending a very strong message to the Obama administration: enough is enough,” Conaway said.
Republicans seemed to find the passage of these 10 bills pleasing, especially after the failure of a major housing and transportation bill on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
In other business this week, the House passed bipartisan legislation Wednesday to deal with spiking student loan interest rates. That bill now only waits for Obama’s signature.
Congress concluded their session this week and has now begun a five-week vacation before they return to capitol hill in September.
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