Amid ongoing controversy over allegations that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) spent years explicitly targeting conservative groups that were applying for tax-exempt status, the House Ways and Means committee announced a Friday hearing on the agency's alleged "practice of discriminating" against organization due to their politics.
Steve Miller, acting commissioner of the IRS, and J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, will be the only witnesses at the hearing, according to a press release from the Ways and Means Committee announcing the hearing.
"The American public expects the Internal Revenue Service to be apolitical in its enforcement of our tax laws," said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., in a statement attached to the press release. "News that the agency admits it targeted American taxpayers based on politics is both astounding and appalling. The Committee on Ways and Means will get to the bottom of this practice and ensure it never takes place again."
The Obama administration and the IRS have been under particular scrutiny since last Friday, when the agency apologized for having singled out particular groups - particularly those believed to have tea party ties -- for extra scrutiny when seeking tax-exempt status.
As details emerge about who in the IRS knew of and acted on the practice of targeting conservatives, Democrats and Republicans alike have lambasted the behavior as unacceptable and a breach of the public's trust.
In a press conference this morning, President Obama vowed to get to the bottom of "exactly what happened" and to make sure anyone found to be operating "in anything less than a neutral and non-partisan way" would be made "fully accountable" for their actions.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., both demanded full investigations of the IRS targeting practice, and Reid promised the Senate would "swiftly take appropriate action" once the official report has been issued.
"In the meantime, no one should jump to conclusions," he said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., however, isn't heeding Reid's advice, telling Breitbart News that this is part of a broader effort by the Obama administration to go after its critics.
"This is a big thing. The good news about it is they finally got caught," McConnell said. "They finally messed with an agency everybody fully understands. When they try to quiet the critics through other agencies, it doesn't get attention. This does. Everybody understands the IRS and how powerful they are. This is just one example of an administration-wide effort to silence critics."
Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz, chairman and ranking member of a Senate subcommittee on Investigations, announced Monday the expansion of an IRS investigation already underway to investigate the most recent allegations.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., meanwhile, called for Miller's resignation.
"Recent revelations about the Internal Revenue Service's selective and deliberate targeting of conservative organizations are outrageous and seriously concerning," he said in a Monday statement. "This years-long abuse of government power is an assault on the free speech rights of all Americans. This direct assault on our Constitution further justifies the American people's distrust in government and its ability to properly implement our laws."