June 29, 2017

Financial Services Appropriations Legislation Is a Right-Wing Wish List

Statement of Lisa Gilbert, Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Public Citizen

Note: On Wednesday evening, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee released its draft fiscal year 2018 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, which will be considered in subcommittee today. The legislation provides annual funding for the U.S. Treasury Department, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and other agencies.

The draft financial services appropriations bill goes far beyond the definition of a government funding bill. Substantively, it’s also a right-wing wish list packed with congressional power grabs, special favors for ideologues and paybacks to corporate donors that have no place in legislation to fund our government. Some of the riders attached to this legislation would:

  • Prohibit the IRS from creating a clear definition of “political activity” to allow nonprofits to engage in the democratic process. The rider also would limit the ways the IRS can interact with churches that engage in politics;
  • Stop the SEC from requiring publicly traded corporations to disclose secret political spending to investors;
  • End the CFPB’s political independence by changing its source of funding and changing the leadership structure of the organization;
  • Stop a CFPB rule restricting forced arbitration clauses in consumer contracts, which would allow corporations to rip off consumers with impunity;
  • Prevent the CPSC from protecting workers from dangerous table saws;
  • Repeal the Volcker Rule, which prohibits banks from conducting certain investment and trading activities so that they can get back to the business of regular banking for Main Street consumers and small businesses;
  • Require financial agencies to tailor their rules to be the least costly to big banks, not the most effective in protecting the public from another financial crash; and
  • Block the use of funds derived from federal sources, including the Affordable Care Act, from covering abortion services.

To be absolutely clear, none of these provisions has anything to do with funding our government. Lawmakers and the president should reject this legislation unless these and other inappropriate policy riders are removed.

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