The House Appropriations Committee has approved the fiscal year 2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. The bill provides annual funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Securities and Exchange Commission, Treasury Department, and other agencies and totals $21.7 billion in funding, which is $1.5 billion below the fiscal year 2016 enacted level and $2.7 billion below the President’s budget request. The committee’s release states that the bill (H.R. 5485) targets "resources to programs that will help boost economic growth and opportunity, protect consumers and investors, promote an efficient federal court system, and stop financial crime."
"The House today passed a bill that prioritizes funding where it will be best used, and makes policy reforms that improve efficiency and accountability and rein in executive overreach," House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said. The bill passed with a vote of 239-185.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif) opposed the appropriations bill, calling it "harmful" and warning that it would "underfund the nation’s financial services regulators for fiscal year 2017 and put consumer protection and financial stability at risk." She cited the CFPB and SEC as likely to suffer from the funding cuts and provisions within the bill.
IRS oversight. The Internal Revenue Service was reduced by $236 million, and received additional oversight and transparency requirements in the bill to ensure tax dollars are properly used and the agency is acting responsibly.
Amendments passed. Rep. Scott Garrett’s (R-NJ) amendment to prevent the Secretary of the Treasury and the Chairman of the SEC, voting members of Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), from designating any additional nonbank companies as systemically important financial institutions was approved. "American taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook to bail out big banks, Wall Street, and any other financial institution that the government decides is too-big-to-fail,"said Garrett. "As the FSOC designates both banks and non-banks as ‘systemically important,’ it essentially puts the government’s stamp of approval for taxpayer bailouts into federal law."
Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis) argued for an amendment prohibiting regulations of an economic impact of $100,000,000 or more promulgated by agencies funded by the appropriations bill. The amendment was passed by a voice vote. Duffy released a statement, noting that there were 3400 new rules last year alone. "There were 80,000 plus pages of rules and regulations last year alone and over half a million regulation pages over this president’s administration. So this is having a real impact on the American economy." According to Duffy the economy is "having a hard time keeping up" with all the administrative rules and regulations.
The House also approved Rep. Stephen F. Lynch’s (D-Mass) amendment to increase funding for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network by $3,300,000 to enhance the agency’s supervisory strategy of money services businesses and to meet the growing demand for FinCEN’s national security response capacity. Lynch, the lead Democrat on the Financial Services Committee’s Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing, called FinCEN "a critical tool in our arsenal to disrupt the flow of funding to terrorist organizations." He continued, stating that as terrorism threats increase, "FinCEN faces a greater demand for its intelligence reporting. The additional $3.3M included in my amendment will help to improve both our national security and the national security of our allies abroad."
Amendments denied. Three amendments proposed by Waters, Reps. Gwen Moore (D-Wis), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Keith Ellison (D-Minn), that looked to remove provisions affecting the CFPB failed by a vote of 179-243.
Another amendment offered by Waters, Ellison, Reps. Terri Sewell (D-Ala), and Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas) would have removed language restricting the CFPB’s ability to rein in payday lenders. That amendment failed in a vote of 182-240.
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