Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

The Serrano Report - Volume XIII, Issue #3

Feb 16, 2016
The Serrano Report

In Washington, DC

Congressman Serrano on President Obama’s FY2017 Budget Proposal

Last Tuesday, Congressman Serrano, Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, released the following statement on President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget proposal:

“President Obama has presented Congress once again with a bold, forward-looking balanced proposal focused on growing our economy and expanding opportunity for everyone – not just a few big-money special interests. As we continue moving forward in the path of economic recovery, the President wants to make sure we invest in three key areas to our shared prosperity: innovation, world-class education, and respect for the needs of working families.

“As Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, I am glad to see that his plan includes increased funding for the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, which provides important economic development assistance in underserved areas like the Bronx, the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is our cop on the beat for Wall Street, and for the Internal Revenue Service, which has been hamstrung by a limited budget.

“As the most senior Puerto Rican member of Congress, I am very pleased that the President included language calling for the island to be able to ‘restructure its financial liabilities in a fair and orderly manner under the supervision of a Federal court’ and have access to a more fair treatment under federal health care and tax credit programs to help it face the ongoing economic crisis.

“Through this budget, we not only energize our economy, we also protect our national security and support America’s continued leadership. I look forward to discussing the President’s proposal in detail with my colleagues during this year’s Appropriations process and I will stand with my House Democratic colleagues in support of a budget that guarantees America’s future economic prosperity and expands economic opportunity for all.” 

Congressman Serrano Meets with Special Olympics Advocates

Last Wednesday, Congressman Serrano met with Special Olympics advocates during their visit to the Hill to discuss their work and advocate for support:

Special Olympics Hill Day

Congressman Serrano Chairs Appropriations Hearing on IRS FY2017 IRS Budget Request

Congressman Serrano also chaired a House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee hearing last Wednesday on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) budget request for fiscal year 2017 with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

In his remarks, Congressman Serrano addressed the need to increased funding for the agency again over last year’s level to counteract the deep cuts the agency has suffered in recent years and support a number of initiatives, from improving the agency’s tax collection services and operations to facilitating the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

“…[T]here is only so much the Commissioner can do without sufficient resources, and that is where this subcommittee comes in. While we were able to increase funding for the IRS by $290 million above the fiscal year 2015 level, compared to the deep cuts suffered by the agency in previous years, this increase is insufficient. 

Last year, numerous nonpartisan reports, from the Taxpayer Advocate to the Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, noted the negative impact that budget cuts have had on taxpayer services and dollars collected.  The omnibus’s funding increase was a down payment on the necessary investments needed for the IRS to succeed, and I believe that more investment is needed to help reverse these declines.

That is why I support the fiscal year 2017 budget request proposed by the President.  It includes a significant increase over last year’s level, and is spread across several initiatives, from improving taxpayer service to the continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  Much of this increase is devoted to the core mission of the agency- helping ensure that Americans can file their taxes in a timely and accurate manner, and ensuring those who attempt to cheat the federal government are caught and punished. 

In my view, much of this increase should be acceptable to both sides of the aisle. Last year, we reached consensus that the IRS needed further investment in order to collect the revenue owed to our country and to ensure that everyone plays by the same rules.  I hope we follow the same bipartisan spirit this year. “


Congressman Serrano also addressed the recent efforts to require the IRS to use a private debt collection agency, which he has opposed in the past as it has proven to be a waste of taxpayers’ money without the proper safeguard mechanisms in place:

“…I do want to express my concern over language that was added to the Surface Transportation bill (the FAST Act) last year requiring the IRS to use private debt collection agencies.  We have seen in the past that this is a waste of taxpayer money, and that requiring private entities to take on an essential governmental function leads to confusion and abuse.  I strongly opposed these efforts in the past, and it is my expectation that no private debt collection program should take place without sufficient safeguards in place- and if those safeguards cannot be found, then I expect the program will not move forward. I hope you will be able to discuss this issue in more detail today.”

Click here for Congressman Serrano’s full opening remarks during the hearing: