Rep. John Lewis Gives Floor Speech to Support Passage of Taxpayer First Act
WASHINGTON—Rep. John Lewis made the following statement on the House floor today to bolster support for the legislation he authored as Ranking Member on the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Oversight. The Taxpayer First Act (H.R. 7227) creates an independent means for taxpayers to appeal actions of the IRS and limits the capacity of private debt collectors to target low-income citizens, among other provisions. Lewis has spearheaded efforts to reign in abuses by private debt collectors and this bi-partisan bill, in part, grew out of his work on that issue. The bill is scheduled for a vote in the House today on suspension and is expected to pass. It has yet to pass the Senate. (Video and bill text are linked to this release)
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 7227. I am proud of the product and the process.
Let me begin by thanking the Chairman (Mr. Brady) for his tireless work and commitment on this bill. From start to finish, he worked with us to advance good, responsible policy.
This morning, I again thank him, the Gentlelady from Kansas, Ms. Jenkins, and the Gentleman from Florida, Mr. Buchanan, for serving as partners in leading this effort.
I would also like to thank our staff again for their good and great work. You refused to give up; you refused to give in. You worked together on the behalf of American taxpayers, and you did a great job.
The IRS is a complex organization that is responsible for a core function of government. Every person in this body agrees on the importance of quality taxpayer service – whether it is online, over the phone, or in person.
For over a year, the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee hosted hearings and roundtables. We listened and asked questions. We asked Democratic and Republican Members to share their concerns and ideas. We reached out to taxpayers and advocates. We negotiated. We took our time, and Mr. Speaker, I believe that we did it right.
Together, we developed a bill that improves the independent appeals process and taxpayer services. We worked together to ensure that taxpayers – especially those who are low-income, disabled, and senior citizens – receive fair, quality, and timely help and support.
For these reasons, I am especially proud of our work to prevent private debt collectors from excessively targeting low-income taxpayers. As a result, our bill will ease the burden on those who are already struggling to keep a roof over their head and food on the table.
From the beginning, we committed to bipartisanship, and we refused to abandon our course. I believe that this experience took our Subcommittee and our institution back to our roots. Mr. Speaker, at every crossroad, we remembered the lessons from the past and chose to put the taxpayer first. Through it all, we set aside our differences about the tax code and came together on the behalf of the taxpayer. As a result, our final bill includes solutions from Members on both sides of the aisle and the dome.
For these reasons, I hope that the Senate will find a way to pass this important, common-sense bill – before the end of the 115th Congress. Time is of the essence. Every minute, every day, every week of delay is a disservice to American taxpayers. This is good work – necessary work – and it puts the people before politics. The process was transparent and inclusive, and the product is strong and timely.
For these reasons, Mr. Speaker, I urge all of our colleagues to vote Yes on H.R. 7227, and I yield back the balance of my time.