The Clinton administration is embracing an IRS overhaul bill it once bitterly opposed after sponsors dropped a provision that would have eliminated the president's power to appoint the IRS commissioner.
"We support the bill in its current form, but we also believe there are changes that can be made and should be made, and we will work toward making those changes," Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin told reporters Tuesday.Rubin's endorsement of the bill originally drafted by Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., and Rep. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, came as the House Ways and Means Committee prepared to approve the measure Wednesday.
The bill is expected to go to the House floor next month, but Senate action this year is not assured.
The legislation is aimed at strengthening taxpayers' rights in disputes with the IRS. One provision would make it easier for taxpayers to prove their case in court.
The administration lined up behind the amended bill after some key Democrats - including Minority Leader Dick Gephardt - endorsed the measure, which had been a mostly Republican initiative.
Rubin said key changes in the measure, negotiated last week, resolved many of the administration's concerns.