Update from Congressman Peter DeFazio
Biggest Banks Saving $19 Billion This Year Alone on the Backs of Taxpayers
Ever since President Trump signed the Republican tax bill into law in December, there has been mounting evidence that investors and wealthy shareholders are enjoying tremendous financial benefits while working families are getting very little or nothing at all. We now have yet another example that the Republican tax law is truly rigged for the rich.
Last month, the nation’s six biggest Wall Street banks posted record profits for their first quarter. Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America saved at least $3.59 billion because of the law. Estimates say these banks will save $19 billion in this year alone. In other words, the federal government is borrowing almost $20 billion this year to pay off Wall Street. They’re using the windfall for higher dividends, stock buybacks, and business investments – not wage increases or support for working Americans.
In an interview this week, Republican Senator Marco Rubio further confirmed that the permanent benefits of the tax bill go to corporations, stating “There’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.”
And how have Republicans proposed to pay for this $19 billion handout, as well as the rest of the trillions of dollars that this tax bill will cost American taxpayers? Attacks on Social Security and Medicare. In his retirement announcement, House Speaker Paul Ryan blamed retiring baby boomers and entitlement programs for the skyrocketing debt:
“That was going to happen — the baby boomers retiring was going do that. These deficit — trillion-dollar projections have been out there for a long, long time. Why? Because of mandatory spending, which we call entitlements.”
Due to the tax law, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently announced that the federal budget deficit will explode. While Speaker Ryan pinned the blame on programs like Social Security and Medicare, the main cause for the ballooning deficit is the decrease in expected revenue because of the tax scam: previous CBO estimates predicted revenue would be substantially higher in the future, before the $3 trillion tax bill was pushed through. Blaming the debt on retirees isn’t just callous, but blatantly incorrect, and fails to mention how the tax plan made the debt much worse.
I will continue to fight to tear down the budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy and instead target tax relief towards hard-working middle class families and the working poor.
Last week, I was honored to be the lead Democrat in the House of Representatives on the passage of H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, which is a bipartisan, five-year reauthorization of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs. This bill will give the FAA the long-term funding it needs to improve aviation safety, enhance consumer protections, make investments in U.S. airports and related infrastructure, provide much needed long-term stability for the nation’s aviation community, and improve America’s competitiveness in the global aviation sector.
As Ranking Member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, I pushed for critical safety standards and consumer protections to be included in the legislation. For example, H.R. 4 contains several important provisions to improve aviation safety, including:
To watch my opening statement on the House floor regarding H.R. 4, please click below:
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s Scandals Continue
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is facing several investigations into his apparent violation of federal ethics rules and his wasting of thousands of taxpayer dollars, including his lavish travel and office expenses. It seems like every day we learn of more troubling accounts of the administrator’s contempt for the rule of law.
Recently, I signed onto a letter requesting the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigate whether the installation of a $43,000 “privacy booth” in Administrator Pruitt’s office violated congressional spending law. This booth is a fixture that no other EPA administrator felt the need to have, as the agency already has a secure room on another floor of the building. There is simply no need to waste taxpayer funds to merely make the administrator feel less inconvenienced. Thankfully, the GAO released its conclusion on April 16, determining that Pruitt’s privacy booth indeed violated the law.
Additionally, the GAO is investigating several statements by Administrator Pruitt that could be construed as lobbying or promoting propaganda for his policies. In an April 2017 meeting with the National Mining Association, Pruitt reportedly urged the group to advocate for the U.S. to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. He also appeared in a National Cattlemen’s Beef Association video that urged farmers and ranchers to ask EPA to withdraw the Waters of the United States rule.
That’s why I joined my colleagues in sending a letter to President Trump urging him to remove Pruitt as administrator of the EPA. I have also signed onto a congressional resolution calling for Pruitt’s immediate resignation.
Beyond the apparent corruption and conflicts of interest, under Administrator Pruitt’s watch the EPA’s enforcement of environmental laws has dramatically dropped, letting polluters off the hook.
Administrator Pruitt appears beholden to industry and seems to have no interest in enforcing environmental laws or rules. Unfortunately, the Republican majority is turning a blind eye to his unethical behavior and his apparent disregard for Americans’ health and safety.
You can be sure I will continue to do everything in my power to stop the Trump Administration and Republicans from weakening our nation's important environmental and public health laws.
Protecting Special Counsel Mueller
On April 26, I was pleased to see the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee pass bipartisan legislation to protect the independence and integrity of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian attempts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. However, while the Committee’s action was a step in the right direction, the bill still needs to pass the full Senate and the House.
That’s why I am a cosponsor of the House version of this legislation, H.R. 5476, the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act. This legislation would protect Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation by ensuring that the Special Counsel can only be removed by the senior most Department of Justice (DOJ) official not recused from the matter. This legislation would also prevent the president from installing an acting Attorney General who could then fire the Special Counsel at the president’s request. Additionally, if the Special Counsel is fired, H.R. 5476 would provide the Special Counsel with a 10-day window to seek expedited judicial review to determine whether the firing was for good cause. If the judicial panel determines that the firing was not for good cause, the Special Counsel’s removal will not go into effect.
Special Counsel Mueller must be allowed to complete his investigation free from undue political influence, including from President Trump. You can be sure I will continue to speak out against Republicans’ dangerous attempts to discredit the Mueller investigation by trying to undermine public trust in our law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
UO Museum Receives Highest National Honor
On May 1, the University of Oregon’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History received the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, which is the nation’s highest award for museums and libraries. I was honored to nominate the museum for this well-deserved award, not only for the museum’s incredible exhibits but also its cutting-edge research, quality education programming, and its standing as a valuable community resource. I applaud the museum for its recognition and will continue to push for federal resources to help further its exceptional work.
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