Bipartisanship Rings Out on Capitol Hill and the White House Over IRS Scandal

GOP, Dems work together to schedule hearings, draft legislation on IRS debacle.

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On Capitol Hill, a rare glimpse of bipartisanship has swept across the body as lawmakers respond to an IRS scandal where career employees in Cincinnati, Ohio, knowingly targeted 75 Tea Party groups who were seeking nonprofit status.

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Already, groups on the right are calling for congressional hearings, on guilty parties to be fired and legislation to be drafted to stop this from ever happening again.

And so far everyone appears to be on the same page.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress released a series of strongly-worded statements Monday, calling for all those involved to be held accountable. And Democrats are not wasting any time defending the IRS's actions.

"I am very concerned about allegations the IRS targeted certain groups seeking tax-exempt status on political grounds, including a Virginia-based organization," Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said in a statement."There's no excuse for ideological discrimination in our system. The Administration should take swift action to get to the bottom of this to ensure those responsible for misconduct are held accountable."

During a press conference Monday morning President Barack Obama told reporters that he first learned of the scandal on Friday when he saw media reports. And while he emphasized the IRS is an independent agency, he simultaneously admonished the agency's behavior.

[OPINION: An 'Outrageous' Act at the IRS]

"It is contrary to our traditions. People have to be held accountable, and it needs to be fixed," Obama said. "I have got no patience with it. I will not tolerate this."

Republicans have been outraged since word of scandal first broke on Friday. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, called the accusations "chilling" during an appearance on CNN Sunday.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., announced Friday he plans to schedule hearings immediately to get to the bottom of what happened in Ohio.

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, introduced legislation on Monday in direct response to the scandal, which would make unfairly targeting groups because of their political affiliation a crime, punishable by five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.

"Whenever someone is persecuted based off of their political beliefs, our democratic rights are weakened," Turner told U.S. News. "There needs to be a full blown congressional investigation to determine who is involved and who initiated this."

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Turner says he's been flabbergasted by the Obama Administration's hesitant response to the scandal.

"What you are seeing from the administration is not only systematic persecution of groups with [differing] political views, but almost a culture of acceptance," Turner says. "The administration has yet to take action to hold people accountable in the IRS for this."

Democratic strategists are also calling on the White House to get in the driver's seat on the IRS controversy or risk being run over by the GOP-led effort to pile the latest scandal on top of "Benghazi-gate," and build a case that the Obama administration is "feckless."

"This is a serious problem that does nothing more than commit and verify what the crazy right wing groups were saying that the IRS is evil and the government is bad...This gives them the talking point they have always needed," says Jimmy Williams, a Democratic operative. "The administration has to confront this head on because if they don't act, they let the House Republicans define the parameters of this debate."

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