CRAMER: Financial Services Appropriations Bill Highlights Spending Accountability, Customer Service Initiatives
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer supported the appropriations bill funding several financial services agencies, as well as the judicial and executive branches of the federal government, when H.R. 5485, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill, passed the House of Representatives today.
The $21.7 billion bill funds agencies including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Judiciary, Department of the Treasury, Small Business Administration (SBA), General Services Administration, Securities and Exchange Commission, Office of Management and Budget, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Executive Office of the President, and the District of Columbia.
“This legislation funds a broad cross-section of the federal government,” said Cramer. “It highlights programs that ensure spending accountability and improve customer service, safety and security. It also reins in those agencies overstepping their authority and mission. I am pleased it also expresses Congressional intent on several programs I have led in the House on behalf of my North Dakota constituents.”
Included in the bill are the following highlights:
- Directs the FCC to refrain from further activity of the recently proposed set-top box rule until a study is completed and prohibits the FCC from implementing the net neutrality order until certain court cases are resolved. Cramer has led the opposition in the House to the set-top box rule and the Administration’s net neutrality proposal.
- Prohibits the FCC from regulating rates for broadband and wireless Internet providers.
- Prohibits the FCC from implementing regulations issued on March 31, regarding “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services.”
- Adds $290 million for the IRS to improve customer service relating to phone call and correspondence response times, as well as fraud prevention and cybersecurity. It prohibits regulating political activities and the tax-exempt status of 501 (c)4 organizations that could prevent nonprofits and citizens from exercising freedom of speech.
- Increases Judiciary funding for Drug-Free Communities and High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas.
- Prohibits funds to provide financial assistance to Sanctuary Cities.
- Includes provisions in the federal employee health benefits program to prevent the use of funds for abortions, and prohibits funding for abortions through OPM-negotiated “multi-state qualified health plans” offered under Obamacare.
- Includes funding for SBA programs that help America’s small businesses start, grow and thrive, including $12.3 million for veterans programs and increases for Women’s Business Centers.
- Encourages the hiring of qualified veterans in the federal government
- Improves spending accountability by requiring OMB to release information on the expected costs of executive orders and presidential memoranda.
More appropriation details of agencies funded in the bill include:
IRS – The bill provides $10.9 billion for the IRS – a cut of $236 million below the FY 2016 enacted level and $1.3 billion below the President’s budget request. This holds the agency’s budget to below the 2008 level, but provides sufficient resources to perform its core duties. The bill maintains the current level – $2.1 billion – for Taxpayer Services. The IRS has been plagued in recent years by the inappropriate actions of its employees and political leadership, resulting in the waste of taxpayer dollars and in unjust treatment and targeting of certain ideological groups.
To address concerns related to these transgressions, the bill requires extensive reporting on IRS spending and prohibits the following:
- A proposed regulation related to political activities and the tax-exempt status of 501(c)(4) organizations. The proposed regulation could jeopardize the tax-exempt status of many nonprofit organizations and inhibit citizens from exercising their right to freedom of speech;
- Funds for bonuses or to rehire former employees unless employee conduct and tax compliance is given consideration;
- Funds for the IRS to target groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs;
- Funds for the IRS to target individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights;
- Funds for the production of inappropriate videos and conferences;
- Funds for the White House to order the IRS to determine the tax-exempt status of an organization;
- Funding for the IRS to audit a church unless the audit is approved by the IRS Commissioner, reported to the tax committees, and takes effect 90 days after such notice;
- Paying bonuses to Senior Executive Service IRS employees. Between 2010 and 2015, the IRS paid out $5.97 million in employee bonuses.
- Makes the CFPB subject to the appropriations process in FY 2018.
- Changes the management structure from a single Director to a five-member Board of Directors.
- Prohibits funds to the CFPB to enforce or issue guidance pertaining to, indirect auto lending.