FY2016 Financial Services Appropriations Bill Approved by Senate Subcommittee

Bill Funds Treasury Dept., U.S. Judicial System, & Small Business Growth; Also Provides Community Banks Much-Needed Relief from Onerous Regulations.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government today approved a FY2016 funding measure that prioritizes national programs to enforce U.S. laws, spur small business growth and maintain a fair and efficient judicial system.
Subcommittee approval of the FY2016 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill clears it for committee consideration on Thursday.  The $20.6 billion measure funds the U.S. Treasury Department, the Judiciary, Small Business Administration, Securities and Exchange Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and several other agencies.  Overall, the measure is $1.3 billion below the FY2015 enacted level and $4.0 billion below the President’s budget request.
The bill includes several important policy provisions to rein in administration overreach, cut bureaucratic red tape, and protect the rights of the American people.  For example, the bill protects the right to free speech and political involvement without fear of retribution by the Internal Revenue Service.  It also increases transparency and accountability at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and prohibits the Federal Communications Commission from regulating Internet rates through its net-neutrality order.  The bill also contains the Financial Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015, which was approved by the Senate Banking Committee in May.
“This bill reflects our commitment to putting our country on the path to fiscal responsibility and forcing Washington to tighten its belt just like hardworking American families,” said U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.), chairman of the Senate Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee.  “This is an important step in protecting taxpayer dollars, reining in government overreach and investing in the ideals of a free market while promoting financial security for future generations of Americans.”
Highlights of the Senate FY2016 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – The bill provides $10.475 billion, a cut of $470 million below the FY2015 enacted level.  This funding level will require the IRS to streamline its activities and prioritize available resources, including user fees, to perform core agency duties.  The bill requires $2.247 billion be spent on Taxpayer Services, an increase of $90 million, to significantly improve the handling of identity theft cases and IRS response rates to telephone calls and correspondence from taxpayers.
In addition, to ensure accountability and transparency, the bill includes:
  • A prohibition on funds for bonuses or to rehire former employees unless employee conduct and tax compliance is given consideration;
  • A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs;
  • A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights;
  • A prohibition on funds for the production of inappropriate videos and conferences.
Judiciary – The bill provides $6.9 billion for the federal courts, an increase of $163 million above the FY2015 enacted level.  This will provide sufficient funding for all federal court activities, including timely and efficient processing of federal cases, court security, and supervision of offenders and defendants.
Small Business Administration (SBA) – The bill contains $849 million for the SBA to provide assistance to small businesses, expand the economy, and increase job growth for unemployed and underemployed Americans.  The bill fully funds business loans at $156 million.  It provides $187 million to fully fund disaster loan implementation costs in order to quickly and efficiently provide assistance to families and small businesses affected by natural disasters.  The bill also funds several valuable programs, including $115 million for Small Business Development Centers, $11.45 million for veterans outreach programs, and $10.5 million for SCORE, formerly the Service Corps of Retired Executives.
General Services Administration (GSA) – The bill allows GSA to spend $8.3 billion out of the Federal Buildings Fund, a cut of $934 million below the FY2015 enacted level.  This account provides construction and repair funding for federal buildings, rent payments for privately-owned office space leased by the government, and operations and maintenance costs for buildings owned by federal government agencies across the nation.
Office of Personnel Management (OPM) – The bill contains $264.5 million for OPM, an increase of $24 million or 10 percent above the FY2015 enacted level—most of which will be used to address IT security vulnerabilities.  The bill fully funds the President’s requested increase for IT security improvements at the agency, while requiring OPM to work with Office of Management and Budget, Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies with expertise on data security in order to prevent future data breaches.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – Included in the bill is $1.5 billion for the SEC, which is equal to the FY2015 enacted level.  The bill targets funding toward critical information technology initiatives and includes increased transparency and reporting requirements on agency spending.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) – The bill provides $250 million for the CFTC, which is equal to the FY2015 enacted level.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – The bill includes provisions to increase oversight of the CFPB by bringing funding for the agency under the annual congressional appropriations process, instead of direct funding from the Federal Reserve.  This change will allow for increased accountability and transparency of CFPB activities and expenditures. The legislation also changes the CFPB leadership structure to be a five-member commission.
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) – The CPSC is funded at $123 million in the bill, equal to the FY2015 enacted level.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – The bill contains $320 million for operations at the FCC, a cut of $20 million below the FY2015 enacted level.  Regarding the expiring lease held by the FCC, the bill provides funding for moving expenses that can only be utilized if the agency significantly reduces the size of its leased space.  The legislation also prohibits the FCC from regulating rates under the net neutrality order, and grandfathers all joint sales agreements (JSAs) from recent FCC JSA rules changes. 
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)  The bill provides $300 million for the FTC, which is $7 million above the FY2015 enacted level.
Executive Office of the President (EOP) – The legislation contains $676 million for the EOP, which is $12 million below the FY2015 enacted level.  The bill denies the President’s proposed cuts of $64 million to drug control efforts, including the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) and Drug-Free Communities (DFC) programs.  The bill instead funds HIDTA at $245 million and DFC at $93.5 million, both the same as the FY2015 enacted level.
District of Columbia – The bill contains a $689 million federal payment to the District of Columbia, $9 million above the FY2015 enacted.  Within this amount, the bill targets resources to public safety and security costs, and supports the District of Columbia Court system and offender supervision.
Other Legislative Provisions – The legislation contains several policy provisions, including:
  • A prohibition on funds for an increase in pay for the Vice President and other senior political appointees;
  • A prohibition on funding for grants or contracts to tax cheats and companies with felony criminal convictions;
  • A prohibition against the use of funds to paint portraits of federal employees, including the President, Vice President, Cabinet Members and Members of Congress;
  • A requirement that departments and agencies funded by the bill link all contracts that provide award fees to successful acquisition outcomes, and a prohibition on funds to pay for award or incentive fees for contractors with below satisfactory performance; and
  • A prohibition on funding to implement an Executive Order on flood management.