The recently enacted omnibus spending bill, referred to as the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, provides the SEC may not use funds made available under the Act to “finalize, issue, or implement” rules regarding disclosures of political spending.

The ink had hardly dried on the Act, averting a government shutdown, when 28 senators and 66 members of Congress sent a letter to the SEC explaining that the agency is free to work on a proposed rule to require disclosure of corporate political spending. It’s OK to propose a rule, you understand, so long as you do not finalize, issue or implement it.  The letter is supported by an opinion from John Coates, professor of law and economics at Harvard Law School.