House spending bill blocks individual mandate, some IRS tax enforcement

A House spending bill that funds the Internal Revenue Service would not only block the IRS from issuing penalties over the 'individual mandate' that requires people to buy health insurance under the Obama health law, but the fine print also prevents the tax agency from fully cracking down on some questionable tax shelters, and from clarifying how taxpayers deal with certain complicated situations involving federal inheritance taxes.

The restrictions come under the headline of "None of the funds" - a powerful tool employed by the Congress to block the Executive Branch from using money to enforce certain policies.

The big headline from the Financial Services Appropriations bill is the effort to ensure that the individual mandate penalty is not enforced - as usual when it comes to legislation, just reading the language of the bill doesn't tell you anything, unless you are familiar with the underlying details of the federal law that is involved - in this case, the Obama health law:

That funding restriction on the individual mandate is one of 59 different examples in this 2018 spending bill that would hold back on money for certain actions by the Trump Administration - here are some other examples from the measure:

These two specific "None of the funds" provisions were not part of the larger "Omnibus" funding measure that was approved earlier this year by the Congress, a spending plan that expires at the end of September, the end of the 2017 fiscal year.

Whether any of this gets voted on by the full House in July is unclear. The full Appropriations Committee must still vote on the Financial Services bill before it could get sent to the House floor.

With only 13 scheduled legislative days between now and Labor Day - all of them in July - it is obvious that the dozen spending bills that fund the operations of Uncle Sam are unlikely to be approved by the end of the fiscal year, on September 30.

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