Sen. Rob Portman said Sunday that IRS enforcement was officially off the table as a means for funding the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.
The Ohio Republican, one of 22 senators working in the bipartisan group to negotiate the infrastructure framework, said increasing IRS enforcement as a way to raise new revenues faced pushback from Republican colleagues — one of the reasons it was no longer a viable option. He also said Democrats are considering including that proposal in the separate $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, which “created quite a problem.”
Portman said the group of 22 is meeting again Sunday to negotiate ways to pay for the package.
“That’s one reason we’re having initial meetings today and had more meetings over the past few days on this topic. There are other ways to do this. There’s legislation, one called the Medicare Rebate Rule that provides significant revenue,” Portman said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “I’ve been on the phone a lot with the Congressional Budget Office and with the Joint Committee on Taxation over the weekend. And we have a number of pay-fors. And that’s important that it be paid for.”
The deal would have provided a $40 billion budget boost for the Internal Revenue Service after decades of cuts, funding that would presumably allow the IRS enforcement division to collect unpaid taxes. Recent IRS research says the annual tax gap between 2011 and 2013 was $441 billion, and a Treasury Department analysis used that figure to project a $584 billion gap for 2019.
The Senate left town last week with a lot of unfinished business on the bipartisan infrastructure deal, despite Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s attempt to push it forward by advancing a floor vote on Wednesday.
IRS enforcement was already on its way out Thursday night.
Portman didn’t say whether or not the bill could be finalized by Schumer’s “arbitrary deadline,” but said it’s “more important to get it right.”
“We are still negotiating. In fact, last night I was negotiating some of the final details with the White House and later today we’ll be having additional negotiations with the Republicans and Democrats who come together to put this bill into a track that’s very unusual for Washington,” he said.
“This is a little confusing for people because it’s actually 11 Republicans and 11 Democrats putting this together. Chuck Schumer, with all due respect, is not writing the bill. Nor is [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell, by the way. So that’s why we shouldn’t have an arbitrary deadline of Wednesday.”