A House panel approved a resolution Wednesday censure the head of the IRS for his failure to provide documents related to the congressional investigation into the IRS targeting scandal, and for presiding over the IRS when many of those documents were lost or destroyed.
The resolution to censure IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, H.Res. 737, passed the House Oversight Committee in a party-line vote.
The resolution says the House "does hereby censure and condemn John A. Koskinen for a pattern of conduct while Commissioner of Internal Revenue that is incompatible with his duties and inconsistent with the trust and confidence placed him as an officer of the United States." It says it's the sense of the House that Koskinen should "immediately resign from office, and if he does not so resign, the president should remove him from office," and calls for his government pension to be stripped.
Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has also introduced a resolution to impeach Koskinen, which hasn't moved in his committee but has 80 cosponsors.
Passage of the censure measure by the committee doesn't mean Koskinen has been censured, as the entire House still needs to vote on it. House leaders haven't scheduled a floor vote yet.
Democrats were stridently opposed to it during committee debate.
"This censorship resolution is riddled with factual inaccuracies," said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the top Democrat on the committee. He said there was "no evidence" Koskinen knew about missing documents that the IRS had failed to turn over to the committee.
Koskinen's travails date back to the 2013 targeting scandal in which Lois Lerner, the disgraced head of the agency's nonprofit division, oversaw the improper auditing of conservative groups. Republicans have charged Koskinen with obstructing their investigation into the issue by withholding records and destroying documents, but Democrats said he didn't do so intentionally and had tried to be cooperative.
"Are you kidding me? Destroying documents when there's three preservation orders in place, one by the IRS themselves, two subpoenas in place, and he's 'cooperative' with Congress when he's destroyed the very documents we've asked for in the subpoenas?" said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. "This is ridiculous."
"When you take away someone's good name, you pretty much take away everything they got," said Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va. "This is a difficult town, Washington… but surely we could, just once, put aside partisanship and respect the fact that the individual before us is doing his best. He did not deceive."
"Like heck he didn't deceive," replied Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican. "The IRS knew in February 2014 that Lerner's hard drive had crashed and they were missing emails, and they waited four months before they told Congress."
"When a senior executive branch official doesn't fulfill the core duties of ensuring compliance with a congressional subpoena and testifying truthfully to Congress, there must be repercussions," Chaffetz said.