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Besides using their normal tools to attack life-saving public protections, Republicans have once again chosen to exploit the budget process. Instead of relying on anti-regulatory bills and (at times theatrical) Congressional hearings, the majority party in the House has decided to go down the path of inserting poison pill riders into the budget appropriations process.

Poison pill riders are preventing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from fulfilling its obligations under the Endangered Species Act.

From attacking science-based safeguards in a full frontal manner to using attempted stealth maneuvers to further delay an already bogged down rulemaking system, Republicans have not let up. Nearly all of the House appropriation bills currently up for debate or voted on contain regulatory assaults:

  • Killing specific final safeguards by blocking funding for the implementation, administration or enforcement – ex. Department of Labor’s fiduciary and overtime rules, preventing the enforcement of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rules to limit exposure to lead paint and the Bureau of Safety & Environmental Enforcement Well Control rule which provide commonsense protection against devastating offshore blowouts like Deepwater Horizon.

By also using stealthier methods and not just attacking specific protections, proposed standards or specific agencies, Republicans are further exploiting appropriation funding bills by adding poison pill riders to shut down the rulemaking system entirely. Since each funding bill covers multiple agencies and different areas, all-encompassing riders have the most devastating impact.

  • Repeat riders have emerged in various bills to shut down any rulemakings the bill would have funded – ex. the House Financial Services & General Government (FSGG) bill included a rider to prohibit the funding of all regulatory actions until January 21, 2017, and the same rider materialized in the House Interior bill.
  • In some cases, Republicans repeated the above riders but with a timeline attached – ex. a so-called midnight rules prevention rider surfaced in the House Energy & Water bill would eliminate funding for all rules with an economic impact of $100 million or more if finalized between November 8, 2016 and January 20, 2017.
  • As another stealth maneuver, Republicans in the House FSGG bill voted to add a piece of legislation to the mix, H.R. 427, the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS). Putting the ill-advised REINS Act into law would require Congressional approval before enacting major regulations – allowing the majority party a golden opportunity to kill the most life-saving public protections.

There’s a reason lawmakers sneak poison pill policy riders into must-pass spending bills to avoid a real debate: these provisions could not become law on their own merits. Many of them are wildly unpopular, damaging to the public and deeply controversial with voters in both parties — and they have nothing to do with funding our government.

That’s why Congress needs to pass clean spending bills with no poison pill riders and Republicans need to stop their assault on life-saving public protections.

Michell K. McIntyre is Coalition Manager at the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards.

This election cycle has reinforced long-held beliefs by many that the nation’s biggest banks need to be broken up. In 2008, American taxpayers bailed out mega-banks after their reckless and destructive behavior and since then Congress has fought about the best way to regulate the banks to ensure that such events will never happen again. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act was introduced to protect consumers in numerous ways, and included several provisions that would reinstate Glass-Steagall, a 1933 bill that separated commercial and investment banking. These policies would help halt some of the risky gambling in big institutions like JPMorgan, Citibank, and Bank of America, but the bill doesn’t go far enough to protect American taxpayers from another crisis.

That’s why Public Citizen continues to support the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, which would make banks smaller, simpler, and safer.

As a part of the Take on Wall Street campaign, we are calling on Congress to make five policy changes that will help rein in some of the worst of Wall Street’s greed and excesses. One such policy change is the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act which would ensure that the big banks are no longer too big to fail.

What is the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act?

This act, reintroduced by U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Angus King (I-Maine) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), would recreate and update the division between Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insured commercial banks and investment banks. Breaking up the big banks is not enough to prevent another financial crisis, and Glass-Steagall would stop the banks’ reckless gambling with taxpayer money and renew their focus on lending to everyday Americans.

How will it do this?

A modern Glass-Steagall would make banks simpler to manage by restricting their activities to conventional banking, and would drive forward competition for smaller banks to compete against more well-known entities. It would also allow for protection against fluctuations on Wall Street, making the financial sector more resilient.

Will Glass-Steagall be effective in today’s market?

The 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act combines the ideals of the Banking Act of 1933 with an understanding of our current financial reality. Senators Warren and McCain have updated the language to directly regulate the markets and practices that lead to the financial crisis in 2008, such as derivatives and securitization.

What can I do?

Take action at to support the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act. There, you’ll be able to sign a petition to tell Congress to reform Wall Street and find a printable one pager on Glass-Steagall.

We hope that you’ll join with Public Citizen and our partners in the next phase of Wall Street reform!

This post was written by Amanda Bragg, a Public Citizen intern.

Bart Naylor at Too Big launchOn June 22, Public Citizen was joined by U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley from Oregon, former congressman Brad Miller of North Carolina, MIT Professor Simon Johnson, University of Maryland Professor Rena Steinzor, and Marcus Stanley of Americans for Financial Reform to celebrate the release of Public Citizen’s latest publication. Too Big: The Mega-Banks Are Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Jail, and Too Big to Manage lays out the reasons why the current regulatory system has allowed mega-banks to remain too large.

Too Big immediately pinpoints the threat to American citizens’ interests as big banks continue to operate without adequate regulation:

“Americans suffered from the financial crisis of the 2008. Adding insult to injury, Americans were compelled to finance bailouts of banks responsible for the crash on the theory that permitting any to fail would cause a cascade of bankruptcies and inflict cataclysmic damage to the economy.

Yet today, the largest banks are even bigger than they were then.”

The book, by Bart Naylor, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division’s financial policy advocate, focuses on commonsense solutions, in the form of regulatory and legislative reforms, to stem the unencumbered power and greed of the mega-banks.

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On Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed in to law a historic piece of legislation that will allow undocumented immigrants access health insurance plans through Covered California – the state Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace.

California’s SB 10 requires the state to apply for a federal waiver under Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act in order to expand health coverage through the state health care marketplace. The waiver will allow undocumented immigrants and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients to buy health insurance policies through the Covered California exchange for the first time.

Children and families that may have been here for their entire lives can obtain only emergency care under California’s current rules. But a lack of preventative care leads to a cycle of sickness for thousands of families.

In fiscal year 2014/15, California spent approximately $1.3 billion on emergency and maternity treatment for undocumented immigrants.

Though adult non-citizens would not qualify for financial assistance in paying their health care costs, as most Americans on ACA plans do, this expansion of the law would allow mixed-citizenship families to shop and apply for coverage in the same place at the same time.

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Public Citizen’s Health Policy Advocate Vijay Das will be on-hand on Wednesday, June 8th at 1 pm for a screening of an important documentary about our health care system.

Fix It: Healthcare at the Tipping Point is a 38 minute documentary that shows how Medicare for All is the best solution to our health care crisis, particularly when it comes to small businesses. Das will be speaking at the brief panel discussion set to happen after. Joining him on the panel will be:

  • Wendell Potter, the former health insurance industry executive and bestselling author
  • Richard Eidlin, co-founder and vice president for policy, American Sustainable Business Council
  • Dr. Robert Zarr, President, Physicians for a National Health Program
  • Richard Master, chairman and CEO of MCS Industries
  • Dan Munro, Forbes

A free brown bag lunch will be provided for the first 80 guests that join us at Rayburn 2168 this upcoming Wednesday.fix it2

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