House passes financial services spending bill

House passes financial services spending bill
© Greg Nash

The House late Thursday passed a financial services spending bill that cuts funding for the Internal Revenue Service and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The measure was approved by a largely party-line vote of 239 to 185.

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In total, the bill provides $21.7 billion for various agencies and programs in fiscal 2017, $1.5 billion less than this year’s enacted level. IRS funding would be cut by $236 million and SEC funding would be cut by $50 million.

The bill would cut FCC funding by $69 million and curb the agency’s ability to take action on its proposed set-top box rule until a study is finished.

The bill also provides funds for the federal courts, the Small Business Administration, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the General Services Administration and the Federal Communications Commission.

The bill includes a number of provisions to place limits on the IRS, including a prohibition on regulations concerning the tax-exempt status of 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations. But the House rejected an amendment to pay the IRS commissioner nothing between the date of the bill’s enactment and inauguration day.

The proposal would make the CFPB subject to annual appropriations, instead of receiving funding directly from the Federal Reserve. 

The bill would direct the federal government to make a payment of $725 million to the District of Columbia and would prevent D.C. from using funds for abortions or marijuana legalization efforts.

The federal courts would receive a funding increase of $177 million.

The House considered dozens of amendments to bill on Wednesday and Thursday. Those adopted included measures to bar funds from being used to change the requirements for registration for the draft and to bar funds from being used to help “sanctuary cities.”

Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.), chairman of the appropriations subcommittee on financial services, said despite the fact that the bill provides less funding than last year, “the allocation is sufficient to fund vital federal programs, as well as one-time set-asides for the expenses of the presidential transition.”

But Rep. José Serrano (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the subcommittee, said the funding is inadequate and the bill contains a large number of policy riders.

The bill “touches the lives of almost every person living in our nation, and sadly, this bill does a great disservice to many of them,” he said.

The Obama administration has threatened to veto the bill because of its funding cuts to federal agencies and its policy riders.

“The bill's reductions in funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) exacerbate the damaging reductions inflicted on the IRS since 2010, and irresponsibly cut funding for the agencies charged with implementing Wall Street reform,” the Office of Management and Budget said. “The bill also underfunds the Federal Trade Commission's efforts to promote economic competition.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill last month that would maintain this year’s funding levels for the IRS and the SEC.