Congress is rushing to pass a mammoth 1,603-page spending bill before it closes up shop in 2014. It's packed with all manner of unfortunate provisions, but among the worst is one literally written for and by big banks.
As Mother Jones reports, at the very end of the negotiation process of the bill — which must pass in order to fund government operations in 2016 — members of Congress slipped in language that was written "almost entirely" by Citigroup lobbyists to allow big banks to engage in more risky trading with taxpayer-backed money.
As you can see, the language in the bill is almost exactly the same as a draft written by Citigroup's lobbyists:
The same provision was actually passed by the House of Representatives through another bill in 2013, but it faded from view after the Senate never voted on it, according to Mother Jones. Now it's back up for a vote as part of the overall spending bill, and liberal Democrats are refusing to support the measure until the section is removed. The spending bill — or a temporary stop-gap measure — must be passed by midnight Thursday to keep the government funded.
The provision is causing great concern because it undoes part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms that limit the ability of institutions like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America to engage in risky derivatives trading, which is notoriously difficult to supervise, with money that's insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. If things go awry and these institutions fail, then taxpayers will foot the bill. The Dodd-Frank legislation protects the banking system from the kind of risk that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis which sent the economy into a tailspin.
Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) has been whipping up public fury over the provision on the Senate floor, and said that if it remains in the spending bill, it will "simply confirm the view of the American people that the system is rigged."
A final vote on the bill was delayed in the House on Thursday, after a closer-than-expected procedural vote cast doubt on Republicans' ability to pass the measure without Democratic support. Democrats led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are fighting to strip the bill of the Wall Street provision, as well as a section that would lead to an explosion in the amount of money individuals could donate to political parties.
h/t Mother Jones