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Senate Financial Services Spending Bill Avoids Poison Pills

The Senate’s bill to fund financial services agencies for 2017 maintains funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission at this year’s enacted levels, but that amount is still lower than what the two agencies requested.

Importantly, however, the measure steers clear of including new controversial policy riders that could doom its prospects as it moves to the floor.

The Senate’s appropriations measure for financial services and general government funds the SEC at $1.605 billion, equal to the enacted level for fiscal year 2016. That’s about 10 percent less than the agency’s $1.781 billion request, according to the panel’s Democrats, but still more funding than the $1.5 billion contained in the House’s bill. According to committee Republicans, the funding for the SEC is targeted at information technology initiatives and economic analysis.

The measure also maintains the CFTC’s $250 million funding, which is $80 million less than the requested level. The Internal Revenue Service would receive $11.2 billion, also equal to current levels.

In total, the spending bill provides $22.55 billion in funding for the agencies in its jurisdiction.

Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, told reporters after a brief markup that he will work with his counterpart in the House, Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.), to come to an understanding on the differing funding levels in each chamber’s bill.

“There’s several things that we’re really far apart on,” Boozman said. “We’ll be talking as soon as we get this done.”

The Senate bill’s text won’t be public until after the full Appropriations Committee has voted on the measure at a meeting scheduled for Thursday.

After Wednesday’s subcommittee markup, ranking Democrat Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said he would support moving the the current bill “with notable reservation and reluctance” as a result of the funding issue.

But Coons applauded the lack of policy riders and said it represented an improvement from last year’s Senate bill.

Coons told reporters that some policy language contained in last year’s appropriations measure will remain this year, such as one that bars the SEC from issuing disclosure rules for corporate political donations.

Overall, the lack of highly controversial riders on this round marks a notable difference from the House’s process, which has been characterized by partisan fighting over language relating to the IRS and the District of Columbia’s budget autonomy.

The full Senate appropriations committee hearing on the measure is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday.