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Congressman Serrano and the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee
At the start of the 110th Congress in 2007, Congressman Serrano assumed the chairmanship of a newly created Appropriations Subcommittee. He became the first Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. He remained the Chairman of this Subcommittee during the 111th Congress. Throughout his tenure he continued his efforts to make sure that the American people benefited from and were provided with real services and assistance from the government agencies under his Subcommittee’s jurisdiction. At the beginning of the 112th Congress, the Republicans assumed the majority in Congress, and Congressman Serrano became the Ranking Democrat on this Subcommittee.
This Subcommittee has wide ranging jurisdiction and responsibility for the Department of the Treasury, the District of Columbia, the Federal Judiciary, the Executive Office of the President, including the Office of Management and Budget, the Administrative Conference of the United States, the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Election Assistance Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of Inspector General, the Federal Election Commission, the Federal Labor Relations Authority, the Federal Trade Commission, the General Services Administration, the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Morris K. Udall Scholarship, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Credit Union Administration, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, Office of Government Ethics, the Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Special Counsel, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Selective Service System, the Small Business Administration, the United States Postal Service, Payment to the Postal Service Fund, Postal Regulatory Commission and Office of Inspector General, and the United States Tax Court.
Importance of Consumer Issues
As Chairman, Congressman Serrano prioritized consumer issues and provided funding for initiatives that made our federal government more responsive to the people they serve. The very first appropriations bill that was passed by this Subcommittee during the 110th Congress was a pro-consumer bill that increased the government’s protection of consumers in significant ways and brought the priorities of the agencies within his jurisdiction closer in line with the needs of citizens, especially the most disadvantaged. He continued throughout his chairmanship to increase funding for the Consumer Product Safety Commission in order to help keep dangerous products out of the hands of children. The Federal Trade Commission received increases to continue its ongoing work to help address the problems of identity theft and deceptive lending practices, as well as to protect consumers and investigate unfair practices in the areas of foreclosure rescue and credit repair services, payday loans, and debt collection. While Chairman, he continued to provide significant increases for the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund in order to expand economic development and affordable financial services for distressed communities. He will continue to fight for these same issues as the Ranking Democrat.
Internal Revenue Service Assistance
Congressman Serrano has been a consistent supporter of IRS outreach and education services for taxpayers and small businesses, and tax return preparation services at Taxpayer Assistance Centers. While Chairman, he increased funding for Tax counseling for the Elderly, low-income taxpayer clinic grants, and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Grants. Congressman Serrano also helped to end IRS efforts to privatize debt collection, which had been demonstrated to be economically inefficient and left taxpayers subject to abuse.
District of Columbia
Congressman Serrano’s philosophy is that the District of Columbia should be treated with respect and that the Congress should defer to the wishes of the elected government in the District of Columbia when overseeing their budget. While Chairman he made sure that the District of Columbia could use its local funds to support needle exchange programs, which have proven successful in the fight to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. This effort put the District of Columbia in the same position as other jurisdictions around the United States. As Chairman, he also made sure that the District of Columbia was able to move forward and make its own decisions with respect to medical marijuana. In addition, Congressman Serrano discontinued a ban on the use of funds in this bill for domestic partnership registration and removed the longstanding restrictions on the use of local funds by DC leaders in support of voting representation in Congress. He will continue to fight against the reimposition of these restrictions during the 112th Congress.
United States Territories
Congressman Serrano also believes that all United States territories should be accorded respect. Because of this belief, he made sure that quarters with designs from Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the District of Columbia would be issued in 2009 to honor and raise awareness of the diverse places that fly the American flag. He will continue to advocate that all of the agencies under the jurisdiction of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee should be directed to treat the territories with fairness. During his chairmanship, he made sure that Puerto Rico would be eligible to receive the same proportionate share of election assistance grants that states receive.
Congressman Serrano is a strong believer in the value of financial education and has funded efforts aimed at elementary and high schools at the Department of the Treasury. While Chairman, he increased the budget at the Securities and Exchange Commission to support investor education and protection. He will continue to look for opportunities to expand upon these educational opportunities.
Securities and Exchange Commission
Congressman Serrano understands the important role that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) must play both during a financial crisis and to prevent future crises. While Chairman, he provided significant increases to make sure that the rules governing investments and the financial markets were strengthened and that the SEC would have sufficient resources to detect and prosecute fraudulent activities.
Congressman Serrano is pleased that in his position on the Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee, he is also able to help care for our national heritage though the Subcommittee’s responsibility for the budget of the National Archives. One of his first actions as Chairman was to restore research hours at the Archives and to expand the workforce of professional archivists. Protecting these historic documents and the important work that is done at the Archives continues to remain an ongoing priority for Congressman Serrano.
Small Business Administration
During his Chairmanship, Congressman Serrano has advocated for and provided funding for small business assistance. For example, he consistently allocated funding for microloan technical assistance. He increased funding for Small Business Development Centers, which are located throughout the United States and provide counseling, training, and technical assistance to small businesses. He designated additional funding for PRIME, a program that provides technical assistance to low-income small business owners.
Congressman Serrano will continue his efforts to make sure that our federal workers whose jobs are threatened by privatization will have protections and be treated fairly. While Chairman, he included in the financial services section of the 2010 Omnibus Appropriations bill provisions requiring all civilian agencies to create an annual inventory of service contracts and then to evaluate whether it would make sense to bring the work performed by the contractor “in house.”
Because of problems reported about our election system, Congressman Serrano worked hard on behalf of election integrity. He supported funding to assist the States in ensuring accurate and reliable elections. He also provided funding for the Help America Vote Act, funds for grants to carry out research on voting technology improvements to ensure accessibility for voters with disabilities, and allowed states to use HAVA funds to ensure they remain at the cutting edge of voting technologies.
Congressman Serrano will continue to work hard to make sure that the provision protecting six day mail delivery continues to remain in the financial services appropriations bill. He understands how important postal delivery is to people throughout the United States.
Congressman Serrano’s philosophy of ensuring effective and responsive government agencies will continue to mark and shape his efforts with respect to the appropriations bills that emerge from the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee during his time as the Ranking Democrat.