Politics

Freedom Caucus to Force Vote on IRS Impeachment Next Week

John Fleming plans to go to the floor Tuesday to set up vote

Louisiana Rep. John Fleming will file a privileged resolution next week in an attempt to force the House to vote on the impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Freedom Caucus member John Fleming told reporters Friday that he plans to go to the floor Tuesday to set up a vote on a resolution to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

By noticing his intent to file the privileged resolution on Tuesday, the Louisiana Republican would start a two-day legislative time clock for the House to take up the matter, meaning a floor vote on impeachment would occur no later than Thursday.

[IRS Impeachment Debate Latest Example of House GOP Infighting]

The expectation is that Democrats will offer a motion to table the matter or to refer it back to committee and that enough Republicans would join them to make the motion successful.

"Someone who voted for a procedural vote to end the process will really be perceived as a ‘no’ vote against impeachment," Fleming warned.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy confirmed that the vote on the privileged resolution would likely take place Thursday if the Freedom Caucus notices it on Tuesday, but declined to say whether there would be a move to table the resolution. 

"I don't know. We really haven't had a big discussion on that," the California Republican told Roll Call on Friday. 

The GOP conference is scheduled to meet next Thursday to discuss the IRS impeachment resolution, likely providing only a matter of hours between an internal debate about the matter and a public vote. 

Fleming said the conference meeting "doesn't matter" because there will be a vote regardless and that members should vote their conscience. 

The Freedom Caucus decided to call up the vote on Tuesday so it would be ripe by Thursday, he said. The House is not scheduled to be in session next Friday. 

Teeing up the vote before the conference has had a chance to debate impeachment shouldn't hurt the chances of the resolution passing, Fleming argued, because members are already feeling pressure from their constituents.

"An overwhelming percentage of Americans want Koskinen to lose his job," he said. "The polls are clear about that."

Fleming, who is running for Senate in a race that also features fellow Louisiana Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., said his constituents are tired of Congress refusing to punish bad actors in government. 

“Many of them have thrown their hands up in frustration," he said. "They just believe we don’t have it in us to stand up for them against corruption among high-level officials. They put it a lot more bluntly, referring to certain anatomy and so forth, but that’s basically the bottom line.”

[Ryan Stops Short of Backing Effort to Impeach IRS Chief]

Many Republicans said this week that they have not yet decided whether they think Koskinen should be impeached.

Koskinen has been accused by GOP members of lying to congressional committees investigating the IRS for its targeting of conservative groups, and of allowing evidence to be destroyed under his watch. While no one in the GOP is rushing to defend the commissioner, several members have called for protections for due process. 

Most members would like to see the Judiciary Committee weigh in on the matter before the full House is asked to vote, but the panel has not acted since it held two hearings on Koskinen's alleged misconduct in May and June. 

"They've had ample opportunity," Fleming said. "I wish they had [acted], but it's getting ready to go on."

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