By Brian Faler and Aaron Lorenzo
The House voted Thursday to make it harder for the government to punish churches that get involved in politics.
In a 217-199 vote, lawmakers approved legislation barring the IRS from revoking the tax-exempt status of churches that back political candidates, unless it is specifically approved by the commissioner of the agency.
The provision, buried in a budget measure setting IRS funding for the upcoming year, amounts to a backdoor way around the so-called Johnson amendment, a half-century-old prohibition on nonprofits getting involved in political campaign activities.
Nonprofits denounced the measure, and noted it came only days after the Treasury Department announced it was dropping requirements that most charitable organizations disclose their big donors to the IRS.
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