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US Rep. Richard Neal asks Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to brief lawmakers on shutdown impacts

January 17, 2019
In The News

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, called on Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Thursday to brief panel lawmakers on how the partial government shutdown has impacted the agency and its preparedness for the upcoming tax filing season.

The Springfield Democrat, who previously cautioned that the shutdown -- now in day 27 -- could delay the Internal Revenue Service’s ability to process and issue federal tax returns, sent a letter to Mnuchin inviting the secretary to testify at a Jan. 24 hearing focused on the funding lapse’s impact on the Treasury and American taxpayers.

Committee officials offered that the hearing, which is set to begin at 10:30 a.m., will allow Mnuchin to tell lawmakers and the American people how his agency plans to move forward with the tax filing season if the shutdown continues past its Jan. 28 start date.

It will also allow the secretary to address the difficulties taxpayers are currently facing while attempting to seek assistance from the Treasury Department during the shutdown, as well as comment on the more than 70,000 Treasury and IRS workers who have been furloughed and missed paychecks due to the federal funding lapse, officials added.

Neal’s letter came shortly after the IRS announced it would move forward with the new tax filing season and released a contingency plan recalling more than 45,000 of the agency’s furloughed employees to work without pay.

The congressman called on Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig earlier this month to provide details on how the shutdown could impact tax filings.

He further voiced concerns that the Trump administration’s plan to process tax returns and filings during the shutdown is "no substitute for funding the government and fully reopening these agencies.”

The shutdown began late last month when funding ran out for nine Cabinet-level departments and various agencies after Congress and the White House failed to reach an agreement on border security spending.

The Associated Press reported that about 420,000 workers were deemed essential would work unpaid, while an additional 380,000 were furloughed.

Last week, the U.S. House passed a financial services spending bill that included funding to reopen the Treasury Department and the IRS. The Senate is not expected to take of the measure.

President Donald Trump has pledged to oppose any spending bill that does not include $5 billion for his proposed border wall.

Democratic leaders, in turn, have rejected the president’s push to build a wall along the United States' southern border with Mexico.