Senator Barbara Boxer (D, CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, UT) want to bar American citizens from leaving the country solely on the basis of the say so one of the collections of President Obama’s decried “unelected officials”—this time the bureaucrats of the IRS.
Boxer’s Senate Bill 1813, “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (MAP-21), is “AN ACT To reauthorize Federal-aid highway and highway safety construction programs, and for other purposes.” Reid tacked on to this his amendment, which reads in part (it’s in Section 40304 of this 1,700 page bill):
If the Secretary [of the Treasury] receives certification by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue that any individual has a seriously delinquent tax debt in an amount in excess of $50,000, the Secretary shall transmit such certification to the Secretary of State for action with respect to denial, revocation, or limitation of a passport….
The Editor of the Congressional Quarterly publication’s Senate Watch, Niels Lesniewski, insists that such a thing has legal precedent:
Existing law says that passports may not be reviewed for applicants owing child support in excess of $2,500. So I think supporters would say: “You can’t get a passport if you don’t pay child support, but you can get a passport if you don’t pay taxes?”
But this is a red herring. The deadbeat parent has been found in open court to be guilty of the arrearage. An IRS filing of notice, which is all Reid’s amendment requires, is not even an accusation of tax evasion, as Constitutional Lawyer Angel Reyes points out, much less an actual conviction for tax evasion. Reyes expanded on the point:
It takes away your right to enter or exit the country based upon a non-judicial IRS determination that you owe taxes. It’s a scary thought that our congressional representatives want to give the IRS the power to detain US citizens over taxes, which could very well be in dispute.
Our Bill of Rights’ 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th Amendments each carry very a strongly implied right to due process, and the 14th Amendment makes that right explicit. But, then, as the Progressive opinionist, Ezra Klein, has already pronounced, the Constitution isn’t binding on anyone.
This is a bad amendment, and one marvels at the cynicism of the Progressive Senators in attaching such a wholly irrelevant amendment to what is, at bottom, an attempt at a jobs bill. If they really believed in the legitimacy of this concept, they’d put it into a separate bill of its own and bring it to the floor for open debate.
One marvels further, though, at the margin of passage: this bill passed out of the Senate on a 74-22 vote. There are entirely too many RINOs in the Senate.