The House failed Wednesday to pass legislation (H.R. 1563) in a 266-160 vote that would prohibit federal employees with delinquent taxes from remaining on the job.
The legislation had been reintroduced in light of reports showing that federal employees collectively owe about $3.3 billion in unpaid taxes.
Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the bill’s sponsor, has been pushing hard to get the legislation passed. In a recent editorial, Chaffetz wrote:
“Among the millions of competent, diligent, and patriotic federal employees are a handful of bad apples whose actions reflect poorly on the entire workforce. It is an honor and a privilege to serve in the federal workforce and it is disheartening that so many federal workers are behind on taxes. These employees are not exempt from their civic responsibility to fulfill tax obligations and those who refuse to pay what they owe should be held accountable.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) voted against the bill. He said in his dissent, “This measure is based on ideology rather than facts, and will perpetuate a negative image of federal workers.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said the bill was looking to solve a “non-existent problem.” He admitted that 100% of federal workers should pay their taxes, but that most federal workers already are and that the IRS already has special authority to garnish wages of federal employees who are not paying their taxes. Hoyer’s complete remarks can be seen in the video above.
Chaffetz has also sponsored legislation that would hold Members of Congress accountable for paying their taxes. H.R. 1564 would require Members to disclose delinquent tax liabilities and would also require an ethics inquiry into, and the garnishment of the wages of, a Member with Federal tax liability.