House Republicans reached an agreement late Wednesday to avoid a potentially divisive floor vote on impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
The deal scraps the vote on the so-called “privileged” impeachment resolution that had been expected to take place Thursday. Instead, the House Judiciary Committee will consider Koskinen’s impeachment, with the IRS boss expected to testify sometime next week.
The agreement makes it unlikely that any vote by the full House to impeach Koskinen will happen until after the November election, if at all. House Republican leadership had balked on moving forward on impeachment proceedings during an election season, arguing that an impeachment vote risked irritating voters. Others said Koskinen deserved a full House Judiciary Committee probe before embarking on the seldom-used impeachment process.
The effort by conservative Republicans flows from the IRS’ 2013 admission that for several years, it had targeted Tea Party groups seeking tax exemptions for rigorous examinations.
Conservatives say Koskinen obstructed the House GOP’s investigation of the treatment of tea party groups seeking tax exemptions. Koskinen and his Democratic allies say he did nothing wrong and provided Congress with all the information he had and knew about.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus, which used a procedural maneuver to force a floor vote earlier this week, celebrated the development as a victory.
“This hearing will give every American the opportunity to hear John Koskinen answer under oath why he misled Congress, allowed evidence pertinent to an investigation to be destroyed, and defied Congressional subpoenas and preservation orders,” the caucus said in a statement. “It will also remove any lingering excuses for those who have been hesitant to proceed with this course of action.”
But the deal came only after conservatives predicted that their impeachment resolution was going to get sidelined by Democratic and Republican opposition Thursday. Even if the House was able to send the resolution to the Senate, Democrats there have enough votes to prevent Republicans from removing Koskinen from office.
The House needs only a simple majority vote to impeach a federal official, the equivalent of an indictment. The Senate then holds a trial and needs a two-thirds majority to find the official guilty and remove him or her from office.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and the Associated Press contributed to this report.