The SEC, like Spalding Smails in this classic scene from Caddyshack, understandably wants some things. Not "a hamburger, a cheeseburger, a hotdog" but, rather, enhanced technology, more examiners, additional experts on staff, and so on. But lately, without fail, Congress invokes its inner Judge Smails to tell the SEC the same thing each year: "You'll get nothing and like it!"

Last year, I noted here that the House Appropriations Committee's approved FY 2016 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill was "eerily similar to the bill Congress passed four years ago -- both bills appropriate $222 million less than the SEC requested, freeze the SEC's budget at the prior year's level, and prohibit the SEC from drawing upon an important reserve fund."

For FY 2017, the SEC requested a budget of $1.781 billion. Anyone care to guess what Congress approved? Did you go with $1,781,000,000 - $222,000,000, or $1.559 billion? If so, you're extremely close as the House Appropriations Committee simply did that but then rounded down and went with a $1.55 billion proposed budget. Unlike past years when the SEC's budget was frozen at the prior year's level, $1.55 billion is actually a $50 million reduction from the $1.6 billion budget the SEC received in FY 2016. 

In addition, the House Appropriations Committee added a provision, for the second year in a row, that none of the funds made available to the SEC 

shall be used by the Securities and Exchange Commission to study, develop, propose, finalize, issue, or implement any rule, regulation, or order regarding the disclosure of political contributions to tax exempt organizations,or dues paid to trade associations.

This issue concerning the disclosure of political contributions has become a stumbling block in the slooooow-moving nominations of Lisa Fairfax and Hester Peirce to join the SEC as commissioners. President Obama nominated Fairfax and Peirce to serve on the SEC back in October 2015.