Public Citizen letter to Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittees

April 8, 2021

 

U.S. Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

Committee on Appropriations

Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government

Washington, DC  20510

Re: FY 2022 FSGG funding

 

Dear Chairs Van Hollen and Quigley, Ranking Members Hyde-Smith and Womack, and Honorable Subcommittee Members:

On behalf of Public Citizen’s more than 500,000 members and supporters across the country, we write to request robust increases in funding for several agencies covered by the Financial Services and General Government section of the FY22 appropriations bill.

As an organization that has represented the public interest since our founding 50 years ago, we deeply understand the need for agencies to have sufficient funding to complete needed rulemakings while also ensuring existing safeguards are implemented effectively. While not an exhaustive list of agencies that deserve a bump-up in funding, we wanted to highlight for your committees several specific funding requests for FSGG-funded entities with which Public Citizen is particularly engaged in advocacy.

Treasury Department

  • Internal Revenue Service- Funding for the IRS should return to its recent high-water mark of 2010 levels, adjusted for inflation, of approximately $14.3 billion. It is imperative that the agency have sufficient appropriations begin the process of ramping back up enforcement activities, improving taxpayer services and technology, etc. as we seek additional mandatory funding through separate processes. Investing in IRS enforcement has a multiplier effect and will more than pay for itself through increased revenue collection by the agency.

Independent Agencies

  • Consumer Product Safety Commission: We advocate doubling the funding for CPSC, raising it to approximately $300 million. Given the importance of the work of the agency—overseeing the safety of more than 15,000 products—it deserves a major injection of funding to carry out its critical function of safeguarding American consumers.
  • Election Assistance Commission: We advocate for a $22 million budget for the agency that manages voluntary election security standards and funding for states to continue to adapt and respond to ongoing security threats to our election infrastructure. The agency is currently underfunded to fulfill its critical mission.
  • Federal Trade Commission: As Public Citizen advocates for the FTC to urgently increase its enforcement activities, we urge the FY22 FSGG bill to triple the funding and headcount at FTC to approximately $1.05 billion.
  • Securities and Exchange Commission: Congress set the 2021 budget for the SEC at $1.92 billion, a $105 million increase. These funds are actually generated not from taxpayers, but through a transaction fee on securities trades. We support a dramatic increase in funding for additional personnel given the expansive territory of firms the SEC oversees, including 35,000 separate entities–11,000 investment advisors, 9,700 mutual funds and 4,600 broker dealers operating out of more than 160,000 branch offices. The 4,000 SEC staff cannot possibly attend to these responsibilities. We support a budget of $3 billion, again, which will be generated by Wall Street fees.
  • United States Postal Service: While Public Citizen supports funding the USPS based on the Board of Governors’ request ($75 billion total–for emergency COVID relief, shovel ready projects and debt relief and additional lending authority) through future legislative vehicles, we urge that the FSGG FY22 bill appropriate at least $6 million to USPS to pilot expanded financial services programs as a way to expand options available to underbanked and unbanked Americans.

We look forward to working with both of your committees to see these funding targets become reality so that government agencies have appropriate monies to carry out their essential roles to both enforce existing law and increase protections for the American public.

Thank you very much in advance.

Sincerely,

/s/                                                                                                    /s/

Lisa Gilbert                                                                                   Susan Harley

Executive Vice President                                                            Managing Director

Public Citizen                                                                               Congress Watch