Private debt collectors who, since last September have been bringing in delinquent taxes under IRS contract, were celebrating a couple of weeks ago.
The party hats were donned and high fives struck after the House approved -- well, technically, it didn't disapprove -- funds for the continued hiring of private collection agents, known as PCAs in IRS parlance.
But over on the Senate side of Capitol Hill, the PCA roller coaster is definitely heading down.
Yesterday, the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee signed off on an $11.1 billion fiscal 2008 IRS budget. However, that measure also limits future funding for PCAs, effectively terminating the controversial initiative.
Of course, this is Congress we're talking about, the ultimate American amusement park, so the legislative thrill rides are far from over.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider the IRS budget bill later this week. Then it will go to the full Senate for consideration.
If the Senate version makes it through with the PCA restrictions, it will have to be reconciled with the more pro-PCA House budget bill. And it's always such fun to watch Representatives and Senators try to come to some sort of compromise.
Ultimately, any measure will need Dubya's imprimatur to make it into law. And there's no guarantee that will happen, with or without money for the PCA program, if the budget busts the amount the Administration proposed earlier this year.
So maybe the debt collectors should just freeze the cake until the lawmakers and lobbyists are finished.