TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, August 29, 2016

Quantum Physics And The IRS Scandal, Day 1208

IRS Logo 2Fox News, Congress Faces Physicists' 'Multiverse' of Issues Including IRS, Zika Upon Impending Return:

Quantum physicists sometimes discuss the possibility of a “multiverse.” A multiverse is where the cosmos is like a layered quilt, populated with alternate realities, different dimensions and unique timelines. As a result, an infinite number of possibilities or scenarios pass along each temporal continuum.

Capitol Hill is now seemingly moored in a legislative multiverse. The House and Senate return to Washington in early September, following an epic, seven-week summer recess. There are only a handful of policy issues lawmakers must tackle when Congress reconvenes, but an almost incalculable string of outcomes loom ahead when they return.

In other words, almost anything can happen.

House Republican leaders conducted a half-hour conference call with rank-and-file GOPers late Thursday. According to sources familiar with the call, the Republican brass offered few specifics as to their approaches on big issues like funding the government, Zika and even an effort by House conservatives to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. ...

Just before the break in July, Huelskamp and Rep. John Fleming, R-La., filed a special resolution demanding that the House impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. That resolution dissolved over the break.

Now, members of the House Freedom Caucus want to bring it back. Fox has learned the House won’t wrestle with the issue immediately as Freedom Caucus members will wait to see how the GOP leadership intends to handle the matter.

House Republican leaders aren’t fans of Koskinen. But they are lukewarm on impeaching the IRS chief. Congress hasn’t impeached a cabinet official since it sanctioned Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876.

As IRS commissioner, Koskinen isn’t even a cabinet official. There’s concern about setting a precedent if Congress begins impeaching various administration officials.

House Republicans will hold a separate conference meeting on Koskinen in mid-September. A source familiar with the thinking of the Freedom Caucus tells Fox its members aren’t in a hurry to refile the Koskinen resolution right away.

They don’t want to pressure leadership right off the bat. A House GOP leadership source told Fox that the public isn’t attuned to impeaching Koskinen. Still, the GOP leadership could further draw the ire of the Freedom Caucus if there isn’t a try to impeach Koskinen.

This is the Capitol Hill multiverse. No one is quite sure how lawmakers will resolve these issues in the end. But as lawmakers return to Washington, there are almost an infinite number of scenarios and possibilities -- because virtually no one’s decided anything yet.

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Comments

Except that the Senate has not been in recess. It has convened every day, in order to prevent the President of the United States from exercising his authority under Art. II, sec. 2, cl. 3. If the Senate were ACTUALLY in recess, the SCOTUS would have a ninth justice, at least until Jan. 3, 2017.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Aug 29, 2016 7:13:37 AM

Pubs,

Perhaps the President shouldn't have violated the Constitution when he made recess appointments to the NLRB back in 2012? I recall he received a unanimous rebuke from the very court he's now trying to pack, so to speak.

Love the irony...

Posted by: MM | Aug 29, 2016 2:11:27 PM

Pretty funny when people who support the passage of the ACA in the dead of night on Christmas Eve by calling it a tax but starting it in the Senate and passing it through reconciliation getting upset over parliamentary procedure.

Posted by: wodun | Aug 29, 2016 8:43:18 PM

That, of course, was my point Mr. MM. So glad you got it, almost. So when exactly did making an appointment to fill an empty seat on the SCOTUS become court packing? And with your newly established standard for court packing, at what point in a president’s term does he lose the authority to appoint judges? Eleven months? One year? Eighteen months? Perhaps a president only should be allowed to appoint judges before an intervening congressional election? John Adams, who appointed John Marshal with 20 days left in his term, would be quite surprised. But if that is the case, let the packing begin--with gusto. (Actually, I was hoping that Judge Garland’s nomination would be allowed to expire on Jan. 3, 2017. Then the new president, 17 days later, could appoint Sen. Elizabeth Warren as the next associate justice.).

Posted by: Publius Novus | Aug 30, 2016 11:16:06 AM

Pubs,

Ideological court packing, that's what I meant. Every President tries to do it, though this one may be the first to violate the Constitution regarding recess appointments. Hey, at least the Democratic side openly admitted they benefit when conservative justices get old and die. That's the perverse incentive of politics, but I find it hard to feel bad when one side tries to hypocritically monopolize power, judicial or otherwise, and ends up stymied...

Posted by: MM | Aug 30, 2016 1:22:01 PM

Mr. MM: Facts are stubborn creatures indeed. Pres. Obama made recess appointments 32 times, as of the date the SCOTUS recess appointments case was argued, according to an analysis by the Congressional Research Service. Among the last four presidents, Reagan made the most recess appointments (232), followed by Bush 43 (171), Clinton (139) and Bush 41 (78), who served only one term. So I guess it would be Pres. Reagan who violated the constitution the most. Something like 7.25 times more than Pres. Obama! See http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/01/13/obama-lags-his-predecessors-in-recess-appointments/

Posted by: Publius Novus | Aug 31, 2016 11:29:19 AM

Pubs,

Could you cite a single instance where Reagan violated the Constitution in his use of recess appointments?

Just curious, since you like facts, I'd love to see some specifics on that one. Federal court decisions only, please, your opinion just doesn't carry the same weight...

Posted by: MM | Aug 31, 2016 6:30:09 PM