In Display of Bipartisanship, House Votes to Weaken Dodd-Frank, Spend More Money on War

Political commentators often complain about how polarized Congress has become. Where is the bipartisanship? What ever happened to Democrats and Republicans holding hands and getting stuff done?

Well, although there is certainly more polarization than in years past, there is also quite a bit of agreement. And when the agreement isn’t on anodyne bills like land conveyances, it’s on things that are terrible.

Take, for example, the Risk-Based Credit Examination Act, which passed 389–32 last Monday.

As shown in the movie The Big Short (and the books, articles, and reports analyzing the roots of the financial crisis), credit rating agencies often ignored their own methodologies and criteria, laying the ground for the ultimate financial collapse. Dodd-Frank, in response, required the SEC to examine rating agencies each year to make sure they aren’t engaging in the same practices. The Risk-Based Credit Examination Act adds two words — “as appropriate” — to the requirement that SEC inspections focus on such key risk factors, thereby weakening oversight and accountability.

These two words can do a lot of damage, as the Consumer Federation of America explains:

This is particularly troubling in light of the fact that SEC inspections have continued to find fundamental failures in rating agency practices, but the SEC has done little if anything to hold ratings agencies accountable. Instead of holding the SEC’s and rating agencies’ feet to the fire, this legislation would provide SEC staff with seemingly complete discretion over what practices to examine and when.
Moreover, as we have seen in other contexts, credit rating agencies could be able exploit the “as appropriate” language to require the SEC to provide economic analysis showing the need for and appropriateness of examinations, and challenge that analysis in court, further undermining the SEC’s oversight program. Because it could embolden rating agencies to return to practices that were so detrimental on our financial system and broader economy, we urge you to vote no on this bill.

Only 31 Democrats and 1 Republican — Walter Jones (NC-03) — voted against the bill.

Here are the 31 Democrats:

Earl Blumenauer (OR-03)
Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01)
Andre Carson (IN-07)
Joaquin Castro (TX-20)
Judy Chu (CA-27)
David Cicilline (RI-01)
Yvette Clarke (NY-09)
Elijah Cummings (MD-07)
Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11)
Ted Deutch (FL-21)
Adriano Espaillat (NY-13)

Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02)
Jimmy Gomez (CA-34)
Raul Grijalva (AZ-03)
Luis Gutiérrez (IL-04)
Jared Huffman (CA-02)
Pramila Jayapal (WA-07)
Ro Khanna (CA-17)
Barbara Lee (CA-13)
Ted Lieu (CA-33)
Alan Lowenthal (CA-47)

Jim McGovern (MA-02)
Jerry Nadler (NY-10)
Chellie Pingree (ME-01)
Jared Polis (CO-02)
Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)
Adam Smith (WA-09)
Jackie Speier (CA-14)
Dina Titus (NV-01)
Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12)
Pete Welch (VT)

Keith Ellison (MN-05) and Mark Pocan (WI-02) were both absent but would have likely joined the 31 NOs.

And yesterday, in a further display of bipartisanship, the House voted to authorize $700 billion for military spending in FY2018 — well beyond the budget cap of $549 billion that they voted to impose in the Budget Control Act of 2011. (Budget caps, of course, are only important to keep for social programs.)

The base budget authority ($634.2 billion) was already in excess of the cap, but then they added $65.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, an unaccountable Pentagon slush fund used for the endless, goal-less wars being fought abroad (and causing human and environmental destruction all-around).

The FY 2018 NDAA passed 356 to 70.

Only 63 Democrats and 7 Republicans voted against it. The 7 Republicans were Justin Amash (MI-03), Jimmy Duncan (TN-02), Scott Garrett (NJ-05), Morgan Griffith (VA-09), Walter Jones (NC-03), Raul Labrador (ID-01), and Tom Massie (KY-04).

Here were the 63 Democrats:

Nanette Barragán (CA-44)
Karen Bass (CA-37)
Earl Blumenauer (OR-03)
Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01)
Mike Capuano (MA-07)
Andre Carson (IN-07)
Judy Chu (CA-32)
Katherine Clark (MA)
Yvette Clarke (NY-09)
Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05)
Steve Cohen (TN-09)
John Conyers (MI-13)
Joe Crowley (NY-14)
Danny Davis (IL-07)
Pete DeFazio (OR-04)
Diana DeGette (CO-01)
Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11)
Mike Doyle (PA-14)
Keith Ellison (MN-05)
Anna Eshoo (CA-18)
Adriano Espaillat (NY-13)
Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02)

Jimmy Gomez (CA-34)
Luis Gutiérrez (IL-04)
Jared Huffman (CA-02)
Pramila Jayapal (WA-07)
Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08)
Hank Johnson (GA-04)
Joe Kennedy (MA-04)
Ro Khanna (CA-17)
Dan Kildee (MI-05)
Barbara Lee (CA-13)
Sandy Levin (MI-09)
John Lewis (GA-05)
Zoe Lofgren (CA-19)
Alan Lowenthal (CA-47)
Stephen Lynch (MA-08)
Doris Matsui (CA-06)
Gwen Moore (WI-04)
Jerry Nadler (NY-10)
Grace Napolitano (CA-32)

Frank Pallone (NJ-06)
Donald Payne (NJ-10)
Jared Polis (CO-02)
David Price (NC-04)
Jamie Raskin (MD-08)
Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02)
Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)
Kurt Schrader (OR-05)
Jose Serrano (NY-15)
Albio Sires (NJ-08)
Louise Slaughter (NY-25)
Jackie Speier (CA-14)
Eric Swalwell (CA-15)
Mark Takano (CA-41)
Mike Thompson (CA-05)
Paul Tonko (NY-20)
Juan Vargas (CA-51)
Nydia Velázquez (NY-07)
Pete Visclosky (IN-01)
Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12)
Pete Welch (VT-AL)
John Yarmuth (KY-03)

Raul Grijalva, Jim McGovern, and Mark Pocan were not there but would have likely joined the NOs.