Despite opposition from many Democrats, the Senate voted 64-33 Sept. 12 to confirm Charles Rettig as commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Rettig’s confirmation gives the IRS its first full-time commissioner in nearly a year. He will take over an agency charged with implementing the most significant tax code overhaul in 30 years. The IRS has also been grossly understaffed and underfunded for years. Since 2010, the agency has lost about $715 million in funding and 22,000 employees.
“From implementing tax reform so that Americans continue to benefit from increased growth, job creation and wages to restoring trust in an agency complicated by scandal and mistrust, Chuck has his work cut out for him,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT). “But he has proven that he is qualified and ready for the challenge.”
Democrats’ opposition to Rettig had little to do with his qualifications, although he is the first private sector attorney to head the IRS in more than 20 years. Democrats were instead protesting the Trump administration’s decision in July to no longer require tax-exempt organizations other than charities to disclose information about their donors as part of their annual returns.
Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) has led the charge against the Trump administration and the Treasury Department for “opening the floodgates to more dark money and foreign money in our politics.”
Wyden raised the issue during Rettig’s confirmation hearing earlier this summer and did not get a satisfactory answer from Rettig as to how he would view the rule change. “I gave him an opportunity to tell the committee he’d try to fix it, but he did not,” Wyden said. “He wouldn’t even acknowledge that there is a real problem here for the cause of transparency and openness in our democracy.”