UPDATE: Opposition to a controversial provision authored by Citibank forced House leaders to delay consideration of the “CRomnibus” appropriations package just hours before funding for the federal government expired at midnight Thursday. Eventually the bill passed narrowly with the Wall Street provision intact (ABC News). Here is the House’s 219-206 vote (Public Interest vote is NAY. The “Continuing Resolution/Omnibus” was attached to an unrelated bill.) Action now shifts to the Senate, which has given itself a 48-hour window to pass the bill (by extending current spending limits 48 hours), but any one Senator can block the longterm funding bill under Senate “Unanimous Consent” rules. The bill also includes a provision to uncap strict limits on “soft money” donations to political parties.
ORIGINAL POST: Growing opposition (opponent list) to a controversial provision which the New York Times reports was authored by Citibank has forced House leaders to delay consideration of the “CRomnibus” appropriations package just hours before funding for the federal government expires at midnight. The provision would again allow Wall Street banks to place risky bets with taxpayer-backed funds, and require taxpayers to bail them out if the bets fail, repealing a key protection added in the 2010 Wall Street reform law. Senator Elizabeth Warren summarized the problem: “We can’t just let them slip in grenades that blow up pieces of financial regulations,” (Boston Globe).
Excerpt from U.S. PIRG’s statement yesterday:
“We join others [Americans for Financial Reform list] in condemning this backdoor, backroom budgetary effort to repeal the Wall Street reform law’s protections for taxpayers and Main Street from the riskiest derivatives swaps that led directly to the 2008 financial collapse, a taxpayer bailout for banks and a recession for everyone else. Wall Street should not be allowed to return to betting and gambling using insured deposits and other taxpayer subsidies and guarantees. Don’t some in Congress remember that five years ago, Wall Street’s unregulated casino economy ended badly when millions lost homes, millions lost jobs and millions more lost trillions in retirement savings?”
Other controversial “riders” attached to the massive package include a U.S. PIRG-opposed provision eviscerating a 2002 ban on soft money donations to the political parties, which would allow a couple to give $518,400 to a national party in a two year election cycle. Excerpt from our full U.S. PIRG statement by Mike Russo:
“Large donations already play too big a role in our elections. This wrong-headed change would move us even further in the wrong direction. We urge Congress to reject this bad deal, and instead work to pass solutions like the Government by the People Act and the Democracy for All Amendment.”
So, if you embrace more big money in our political system and support the big Wall Street banks writing their own rules that force you to bail them out when their bets lose, Congress has got a deal for you.
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program, PIRG
Ed oversees U.S. PIRG’s federal consumer program, helping to lead national efforts to improve consumer credit reporting laws, identity theft protections, product safety regulations and more. Ed is co-founder and continuing leader of the coalition, Americans For Financial Reform, which fought for the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, including as its centerpiece the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He was awarded the Consumer Federation of America's Esther Peterson Consumer Service Award in 2006, Privacy International's Brandeis Award in 2003, and numerous annual "Top Lobbyist" awards from The Hill and other outlets. Ed lives in Virginia, and on weekends he enjoys biking with friends on the many local bicycle trails.