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Special Favors for Dark Money and Big Oil, and WTO-Ordered Gutting of Meat Labels, Should Be Removed from the Omnibus Spending Bill

Dec. 16, 2015

Special Favors for Dark Money and Big Oil, and WTO-Ordered Gutting of Meat Labels, Should Be Removed from the Omnibus Spending Bill

Statements from Public Citizen’s Experts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Special favors for Dark Money and Big Oil have no place in the omnibus spending bill introduced early this morning and should be removed before Congress votes on the package, Public Citizen said today. Throughout the fall, lawmakers proposed hundreds of inappropriate policy riders. Nearly 200 groups, 165 members of Congress and more than 200,000 Americans called on lawmakers to oppose all riders, yet several dangerous ones remain in the package. Below are quotes from Public Citizen’s experts:

Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division:

“It’s outrageous that lawmakers are interfering with the most modest measures to increase disclosure of political spending. The American people want – and deserve – to know who is trying to buy our elections.”

“The policy riders on campaign finance included in the omnibus package would undermine executive actions the administration could and should take to improve disclosure of political spending. This is not appropriate for a spending bill. While we are happy that the congressional leadership stood firm against a rider that would have removed limits on coordinated spending between parties and their candidates as well as a rider that would have unraveled the presidential public financing system, we are dismayed by the inclusion of two extremely damaging riders concerning the abilities of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the IRS to create rules.”

“If the rider that halts IRS rulemaking for a year is in the final passed bill, Congress will be ignoring the clear need to deal with bad actors gaming the tax code to avoid disclosure as well as the need for clearer definitions of political activity to avoid another ‘scandal.’ With the inclusion of the SEC rider, they will be halting the most requested rulemaking in the agency’s history and simultaneously short-circuiting one of our best chances for public disclosure of corporate political spending since the Citizens United ruling. These riders must be removed. Regardless, the President must quickly move forward to issue the Executive Order on contractor disclosure.”

“We are pleased, however, that our allies in Congress were able to keep out a dangerous rider which would have delayed a federal rule on silica, which is currently on track to be finalized in February 2016. When released, the rule will prevent 700 deaths a year and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis a year.”

Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program:

“In yet another stunning display of the American Petroleum Institute’s lobbying power, Congress slipped a repeal of the 40-year-old limit on exporting U.S. produced crude oil into the omnibus, handing Big Oil its top legislative priority. This action threatens to raise gasoline prices for American motorists in the years ahead while providing a $30 billion annual windfall profit to U.S. oil producers by 2025. Allowing the unfettered export of U.S. crude will fundamentally transform domestic energy markets – increasing controversial fracking and reversing the high stockpiles that have provided American refiners and motorists access to an oil price discount.”

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division:

“Congress’ elimination of country-of-origin meat labels for pork and beef that consumers rely on to make informed choices about their food makes clear that trade agreements can – and do – threaten even the most favored U.S. consumer protections. A week after the World Trade Organization approved $1 billion in trade sanctions against the U.S. unless and until the policy was terminated, a provision to kill the popular consumer labels was tucked into the omnibus package. This is a real problem for administration efforts to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership – which faces opposition from an unprecedentedly diverse coalition of organizations and members of Congress – because claims that trade pacts cannot harm U.S. consumer and environmental policies have been a mainstay of their campaign.”