A little-noticed part of the military spending bill deals a giant blow to shady shell companies

A little-noticed part of the military spending bill deals a giant blow to shady shell companies
Mitch McConnell // Credit: Gage Skidmore

On New Year's Day, Republicans and Democrats managed to find some common ground when the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to override President Donald Trump's defense bill veto — a rare example of Senate Republicans siding with Democrats over the president. Journalist Casey Michael analyzes the veto in a Twitter thread, applauding a little-noticed part of the bill he considers a triumph for "counter-kleptocracy reforms" and a major blow to "shell companies."

Michel, known for his articles for Foreign Policy and The New Republic and his book, "American Kleptocracy: How the U.S. Created the World's Greatest Money Laundering Scheme in History," writes:

The Senate's veto override today means that the US: (A) just eliminated the primary building block in America's transformation into an offshore haven, and (B) passed the most sweeping counter-kleptocracy reforms in decades — potentially ever.

Many have criticized the bill for continuing the bloated funding of the Pentagon, which some see as wasteful and jingoistic. But Michel goes on to explain why he considers the Senate's decision to override Trump's veto "incredible news" and "an incredible way to start 2021." The provision on shell companies, according to Michel, is a "huge boost to American credibility in the fight against modern kleptocracy" and a "huge blow to those who'd turned to the U.S. time and again for their laundering needs."

Nonetheless, the journalist cautions, "The fight against anonymity, and these American kleptocratic building blocks, is hardly over. Trusts, real estate, private equity, hedge funds, art houses, auction houses…. much work remains. But today is absolutely a day to celebrate."

The vote in the Senate was 81-13 and marked the first time lawmakers in both of the United States' two major political parties came together to override a Trump veto.

Michel explains, "This was not only a clear rebuke to Trump — and the first veto override! — but it was absolutely a bipartisan endeavor. The legislation banning shell companies couldn't have been passed without a broad, broad base of support and stakeholders, across the aisle."

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