WASHINGTON -- For all the anger among progressives about a Wall Street bailout provision that made its way into the just-passed $1.1 trillion government spending bill, there's been little attention on the person who put it in there.
Meet Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-Kansas).
Yoder, a second-term congressman whose largest contributors are in the finance industry, introduced the provision last summer. It was literally written by Citigroup executives, but Yoder took their language and rolled it into an amendment to a spending bill in a House subcommittee meeting. It got swept into the year-end spending package because it "was within the scope of negotiations" on it, according to an Appropriations Committee aide.
The provision, which prompted a fiery speech by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), undoes a rule that prevents big banks from relying on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to bail them out if things go sour when they trade risky assets. The rule was put into place as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, which overhauled the financial regulatory system after the 2007-2008 financial crisis stemming from banks making extremely risky bets and losing. The government had to bail them out with taxpayer money, and Yoder's provision paves the way for another possible bailout.
Yoder has been mum about the spending package since it passed the House. His office hasn't responded to multiple requests for comment on why he slipped the Citigroup language into it. The press statements on his website say nothing about the provision or the spending bill. There are no posts about it on his Facebook page. He's said nothing in his Twitter feed.
But a look at the comments on Yoder's Facebook page shows that some people, including Kansas voters, are catching on that he was the one behind the Wall Street provision. And they're not happy.
"I have always voted for you, Congressman Yoder, but I am disappointed with your yes vote on the Omnibus bill and we, your constituents, deserve an explanation as to why," writes Dianne Lavenburg, who lives in DeSoto, Kansas. "[P]lease clarify your involvement regarding the taxpayer bailouts for risky bank investments also included in the Omnibus bill."
"How much did Citi donate in exchange for you inserting their requested verbiage?" asks Kevin West, who studies at Kansas State University.
"Why is there a Wall Street giveaway in the Continuing Resolution? Did you learn nothing during the last cycle of collapse and bailouts? Plain ignorance, or willful ignorance?" says Rich Reavis, who plays in a band called Rail Dog that performs around Kansas. "Did you speak out against putting that crap in the CR?"
Scott Gregory of Roeland Park, Kansas, which falls in Yoder's district, says, "I'm sure the good folks of the 3rd District were just beating down the door to get CITI favored treatment. You are a sell-out to Wall Street lobbyists."
Citibank maintains the rule change is good for everyone. Asked for comment on the provision being included in a must-pass bill, a company spokeswoman pointed HuffPost to a recent blog post by Ed Skyler, executive vice president for global public affairs, outlining why banks back the provision being repealed.
"Citi is strongly committed to the safety and soundness of the financial system. We also support a regulatory framework in which U.S. companies can be as competitive as possible," Skyler writes. "This correction to the 'swaps push-out' provision supports both goals."
To be clear, lawmakers in both parties supported the bank provision by voting for the spending package. Republican leaders in the House and Senate, as well as Democratic leaders in the Senate and appropriations committee chairs on both sides of the aisle, were in favor of including the provision. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), the lead appropriator in the Senate, actively defended the bank language.
The vote created unusual fractures in the House, where Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) broke from Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in opposing it. The bill also led to odd alliances in the Senate, where Warren and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) found themselves united against it. The final House vote can be seen here. The Senate vote is here.
Language has been added to note that lawmakers of both parties voted for the Wall Street provision.
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