Press Release: Over 200,000 Petitioners Tell Congress to Reject Wall Street Policy Riders




Alexis Goldstein, Americans for Financial Reform, / 202-973-8005

Lisa Gilbert, Public Citizen, / 202-454-5188

Today, CREDO Action, Americans for Financial Reform, Public Citizen, USAction and USPIRG delivered petitions in which more than 200,000 Americans told Congress not to let the budget process be used once again as a vehicle for backdoor financial deregulation. Last year, through a rider attached to a massive spending bill, Congress overturned an important provision of the Dodd Frank financial reform law, permitting the Wall Street megabanks to continue engaging in high-risk derivatives trades with the benefit of deposit insurance and other federal subsidies and guarantees.

This year, the threats are numerous. There are riders in the works to, among other things, undermine the independence and effectiveness of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and make it easier for financial companies to exert undue influence; block the Department of Labor from requiring financial advisers to act in the best interest of their clients; and deregulate some of the country’s biggest banks. (Click here for a list of other riders being promoted by financial industry lobbyists and their friends in elected office.)

Hundreds of organizations have signed on to letters opposing riders rolling back financial reform. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) submitted a letter in which 84 organizations urged Congress to oppose any policy riders that roll back key financial regulations on the year-end spending bill. Nearly 200 groups – representing tens of millions of Americans – sent a letter to President Barack Obama and all 535 members of Congress urging them to oppose any federal appropriations bill that contains inappropriate and ideological policy riders. In October, Americans for Financial reform sent a letter to Congress from 166 organizations that told lawmakers to oppose any funding bill that includes provisions rolling back or undermining financial reform. This month, 88 organizations sent a joint letter urging the leaders of Appropriations Committees to oppose any proposals that would change the leadership structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) into a Commission. And 340 organizations sent a letter to Congress earlier this year documenting the CFPB’s effectiveness and urging that its structure be maintained.

“If giving handouts to Wall Street was politically popular, bank-friendly politicians wouldn’t have to resort to putting them in must-pass legislation,” said Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director at CREDO Action. “No member of Congress – and certainly no Democrat – should allow government funding to be held hostage to Wall Street’s demands.”

“Riders are unpopular and controversial with voters in both parties, and have no place in the appropriations process,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “This is Washington’s deep corruption at its worst. Stealthy, out-of-order maneuvers are being used to force through provisions that would impose enormous harm on the American public to benefit corporate donors. Republicans in Congress are trying to avoid a real debate and showing they aren’t looking out for regular Americans.”

“What do all these backdoor measures have in common? One after another, they would make it easier for large financial companies to take advantage of consumers, homeowners, investors, small business owners, and taxpayers,”  said Lisa Donner, President of Americans for Financial Reform. ” By attaching them to a ‘must pass’ government spending bill, Wall Street and its congressional agents are using unacceptable means to achieve an unacceptable end.”

“Wall Street, the payday lenders and their Capitol Hill allies don’t like the CFPB but the message today is that the American people do,” said USPIRG Consumer Program Director Ed Mierzwinski. “The public remembers what happens when the banks run amok and soundly rejects all rollbacks to benefit powerful special interests, especially when they are negotiated behind closed doors.”

“It is essential that Congress restore funding for critical affordable housing programs, foreclosure prevention and fair housing enforcement, and produce a bill free from policy riders,” said NCRC President and CEO John Taylor. “This spending bill is no place for Congress to try to sneak by harmful stealth reforms to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that will diminish working-class Americans’ access to responsible credit, roll back critical financial regulations, or make other harmful policy changes.”

The petitions have all been compiled here. Click below to view the individual petitions and signers: