Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Spending Bill is Packed with Perks

Wall Street firms, Las Vegas casinos, defense contractors and other major U.S. corporations won special provisions tucked inside a 1,600-page spending bill being considered by Congress.
The bill, which funds more than $1 trillion in government operations through Sept. 30, sparked a lobbying frenzy from individual companies, industries and other special interests.
Las Vegas casinos are among those that would benefit from 
the spending bill before Congress. Sen. Amy Klobuchar 
(D., Minn.) backs keeping a program to attract foreign 
tourists that Sen. Harry Reid sees as benefiting Las Vegas. 
Associated Press
Winners include banks, such as Citigroup Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., which scored a provision rolling back new derivatives regulations; hotels, rental car firms and Las Vegas casinos, which hit the jackpot with a provision that renews a U.S. marketing program to entice foreigners to vacation in the U.S.; and a tiny uranium enrichment firm that won $97 million in federal funds.
Rep. Jack Kingston (R., Georgia) secured language to 
ensure that a project to expand the Savannah Harbor 
would go forward. TK
Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) secured a provision that would suspend enforcement of rules designed to prevent truck-driver fatigue. Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, touted the inclusion of $120 million he hopes will double capacity on Chicago’s most-used subway lines. Rep. Jack Kingston (R., Georgia) secured language designed to ensure that a project to expand the Savannah Harbor would go forward.
Many of the provisions were added to the spending bill by congressional leaders, as they have done in years past, in an effort to secure as much possible support, especially given Congress’s tortured recent history in passing spending legislation.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) backs a $120 million grant program 
that has only one eligible beneficiary: Chicago’s subway 
system. Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images
This time, however, some of the extraneous provisions are drawing fire from both Democrats and Republicans alike. Conservatives say the provisions are freebies to special interests. Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), contend the derivatives measure is a giveaway to Wall Street banks.
House leaders hope to vote on the legislation Thursday. The Senate is looking to vote on the spending package later this week.
At the behest of Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine), a rule 
limiting truckers to 70 hours of work per week would 
be suspended. Bloomberg News
For Washington lobbyists, the bill represents one of the few chances to influence legislation, “so it becomes a feeding frenzy to make sure your client’s provision is inserted in the only train leaving the Capitol Hill station,” says Steve Ellis, a vice president at Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan organization that tracks spending provisions.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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