A House floor vote on a resolution to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen could still come next week, despite a deal under which the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday with the embattled agency chief.
House Freedom Caucus member Tim Huelskamp told reporters Thursday that a deal to delay the impeachment vote, which had been expected to occur that day, only involved waiting until after the Judiciary hearing. There was no agreement to wait until November to have a floor vote, the Kansas Republican said.
“The agreement was to allow a hearing on this, which again we’ve been waiting a year for this,” said Huelskamp, adding that he spoke with Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan about the deal Wednesday night. “We’ll wait one more week for them to have the hearing.”
Jordan and Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia brokered the deal, several members said.
The Judiciary Committee has asked Koskinen to testify Sept.21 about his alleged misconduct as the panel decides whether to act on the impeachment resolution filed against him. The IRS said it learned about the hearing late Wednesday and is reaching out to the panel Thursday to discuss the timing of the hearing.
While Huelskamp had said he expected Koskinen to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights at the hearing, the agency told Roll Call in a statement Thursday that he would not do so.
Huelskamp said he may go to the floor next week to offer notice of his intent to file a privileged resolution to impeach Koskinen. The procedural move would allow the congressman to force a floor vote within two legislative days of the notice.
Huelskamp said he has not yet met with colleagues about what they want to do but said he would be willing to push forward alone because he does not want to delay the vote until November.
“It only takes one, so I anticipate we’re going to have a vote next week,” he said. “This is actually a good issue for Republicans. I don’t know why folks would run away.”
Republicans pressing for impeachment say Koskinen destroyed evidence related to the IRS handling of applications from conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, failed to comply with a congressional subpoena to turn over the evidence, and made false statements to Congress under oath. House leaders have not been willing to commit to a vote on an impeachment resolution.
Huelskamp has nothing to lose in pressing for a vote next week, since he lost his primary in August. He and other Freedom Caucus members are angry at House GOP leadership for not putting him back on the Agriculture Committee and blame the establishment wing of the party for backing his victorious primary opponent.
Freedom Caucus member Mark Meadows confirmed that there was no agreement to delay a floor vote until November, and said there is no specific plan on what happens after the hearing.
“The primary focus was to continue the process to hold John Koskinen accountable,” the North Carolina Republican said. “We see him having to give sworn testimony before the committee of jurisdiction as a step in the right direction.”
Meadows said he is hopeful the case against Koskinen is compelling enough to lead to additional hearings with defense and prosecuting witnesses. But regardless of whether that occurs, Freedom Caucus members are committed to ensuring there is a vote on impeachment, he said.
“I fully expect that there will be a vote,” Meadows said. “Whether that happens before the election or after the election is really more a function of Chairman Goodlatte and what comes out of the Judiciary Committee.”
Speaker Paul D. Ryan told reporters that he wasn’t involved in the deal — that members worked it out among themselves with Goodlatte — but that his understanding was the hearing scheduled for next week would be in lieu of a vote before November.
Ryan said members working together on a compromise is “a good way to work things out. That’s how I want to see things get done around here.”
Rema Rahman contributed to this report.