Matt Gaetz speaking in front blue background (l) Kevin McCarthy speaking in front of blurred background (r)

lev radin/Shutterstock Consolidated News Photos/Shutterstock (Licensed) Remix by Caterina Cox

Gaetz supporters hit McCarthy over IRS funding amid looming motion to oust him as Speaker

'87,000 IRS agents' trended on social media.


Katherine Huggins


Posted on Oct 3, 2023

Supporters of Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-Fla.) push to oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker are criticizing the California Republican for not defunding the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

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The term “87,000 IRS agents” began trending on the social media platform X Tuesday morning ahead of Congress’ vote on whether to strip McCarthy of the speakership.

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“ATTENTION @SpeakerMcCarthy, you should have kept your word and defunded 87,000 IRS agents on day 1…! Big mistake, HUGE,” wrote one user.

“Our very first bill will repeal the funding for 87,000 new IRS agents,” McCarthy vowed in January. “You see, we believe government should be to help you, not go after you.” 

Soon after, the House repealed the extra IRS funding prompting McCarthy to say in a statement, “Promises made. Promises kept.”

However, McCarthy allowed a large chunk of the extra IRS funding that was approved in 2022 to remain in the debt ceiling deal brokered by him and President Joe Biden in May.

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“Kevin says we can fight again NEXT year to rescind another year of the IRS $80 billion … but he simultaneously prevented that ‘fight’ by agreeing to suspend the debt ceiling for TWO years,” Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) in May. “So there will be 85,260 more IRS agents rather than 87,000 to eat you alive. Big win.”

Now, as McCarthy faces increasing criticism within his own caucus—much of it headed by Gaetz, the IRS funding in the debt ceiling deal is coming back to haunt him.

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“Has Speaker McCarthy defunded those 87,000 IRS agents like he promised he would? So many broken promises. Enough is enough. GOP members must vote yes on the motion to vacate,” wrote one critic on X.

Another user listed the lack of IRS defunding as an example of McCarthy breaking his word, adding: “You sir should’ve defunded the 87,000 IRS Agents when you were first elected as House Speaker on the same exact day. You’ve made a GRAVE mistake Speaker McCarthy. A YUGE one!! We have had enough! No More!”

The 87,000 figure frequently repeated by Republicans is largely an exaggeration, according to multiple fact checks. CNN notes that the figure would include all employees, not just auditors, as well as replacements for current and expected vacancies. Additionally, the funding increase is not meant to target anyone making less than $400,000 annually.

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When the IRS hiring plans were first announced, misinformation about IRS employees carrying weapons and forming a deadly enforcement detail also spread online.

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*First Published: Oct 3, 2023, 11:31 am CDT

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