Common Cause strongly opposes the FY 2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act and urges Congress to pass a clean continuing resolution in its stead.
The current proposal is a toxic cocktail of giveaways and protections for special interests, billionaires and millionaires.
Not only will it lead to scandal, the bill is itself a scandal, providing political payback to some of the biggest spenders in the 2014 midterms.
It is damning evidence of a Congress far more responsive to those with the deepest pockets than to the American public it was elected to represent.
Among the reasons we urge this bill’s defeat, the omnibus includes:
- A massive increase in the amount of corrupting money one donor can give to a political party. With the greatest economic inequality in nearly 100 years driving a wedge between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else, the political power that these contributions can purchase under these new limits undermines representative democracy itself. A single donor will be able to write one check for up to $777,600 each year – or $1,555,200 per two-year election cycle – to all of a political party’s committees, including brand new committees authorized in this omnibus for political conventions, building funds and recounts. Combined with the McCutcheon decision earlier this year, one individual’s political reach could include nearly $5 million to a single party’s committees and candidates in one election cycle. This outrageous increase in contribution limits is an open invitation to corruption and undue influence over public policy.
- A prohibition on disclosure of political donations from government contractors, rewarding a pay-to-play culture rigged in favor of those with the biggest political war chests, and a carte blanche invitation to waste, fraud and abuse.
- A ban on the District of Columbia government using any funds assisting with civil actions or petition drives to provide voting representation to its 650,000 citizens.
- Cuts in funding to the IRS to its lowest levels in 7 years at the same time that the agency is working to enforce laws against billionaires and corporations that abuse tax structures to hide their political spending from the American people.
- A freeze in funding to the FCC – at the precise moment that the Commission is widely anticipated to be preparing to announce historic Open Internet rules next year.
- Special treatment exempting big polluters, Wall Street, and the National Rifle Association, among others, from existing regulations that protect the public interest. Those who spent millions of dollars collectively on the 2014 midterms stand to receive very special treatment in return. Wall Street interests – which according to the Center for Responsive Politics spent over $435 million in the 2014 midterms – will enjoy significant changes to Dodd-Frank that will loosen restrictions on their activities. The omnibus will permit financial firms to make risky bets at the public’s expense, with guaranteed bailouts from federal insurance programs when the bets fail. The omnibus cuts the EPA’s budget 21% below 2010 levels, grants exemptions to certain clean water laws, and even prohibits the agency from regulating lead in gun ammunition.
As written, this omnibus is an affront to the public interest and offensive to representative democracy. We urge its defeat.
Congress should pass a clean continuing resolution to keep the government funded and commit to an open, transparent process in the new Congress.
Karen Hobert Flynn
Senior Vice President for Strategy & Programs