News & Resources
This resource bank contains FY 2018 budget cycle news articles, op-eds, editorials, blogs, press releases and other resources from Clean Budget Coalition members and allies. Use the controls below to search, sort and filter. Content is added daily.
Holiday gatherings with the family can be awkward, especially if you aren’t prepared for the inevitable table talk. Feeling like you don’t have enough fodder to sustain a conversation at the Thanksgiving dinner table this month? Fret not! Every year around this time, my colleagues write about the budget process as the clock ticks for Congress to pass a clean budget – that is, a budget free from “poison pill” policy provisions and seemingly innocuous regulatory process riders that would hamper agencies from utilizing the best available science in rulemaking. These anti-science riders are extraneous special interest policies tacked onto a must-pass spending bill, a sort of parasitic mutualism, if you will. This year, I have a gift for our readers ahead of the holidays: a brief list of harmful anti-science riders that would weaken science-based safeguards, potentially putting the health and safety of families at risk, repurposed as a guide to navigating uncomfortable silence and forced interactions with your family at Thanksgiving.
It’s Halloween and the ghouls and ghosts are out raising hell. However, some flying monkeys from a variety of villains resurfaced earlier this year and have been wreaking havoc for months and will continue to do so if something isn’t done. When it comes to the budget deal, poison pill riders are the flying monkeys of the political world; out to do the bidding of big business, the Chamber of Commerce and other special interests. Ideological riders are provisions that address extraneous and unpopular policy issues and are often slipped into unrelated must-pass bills – including this year’s appropriations package – as a way to strong arm approval for treacherous ideas that result in a dangerous strategy for the American public.
Through a process known as budget reconciliation, Congress can pass laws that, in theory, align federal spending and revenue with the budget it previously decided on. It’s a potent tool, as a grand package of provisions can be advanced with a simple majority vote. And as we have seen before, Republican Leadership loves to lard up these ostensibly fiscal bills with policy riders that otherwise would fail on their merits.
This week’s vote-a-rama in the U.S. Senate will set the table for a feeding frenzy of corporate handouts later in the year, when the U.S. Congress must pass appropriations bills before funding expires in December. Stopping poison pill riders that act as earmarks for industry and other well-heeled interests should be a top priority, as these measures have no place in government funding legislation. This budget resolution contains the ultimate rider: tax reconciliation instructions that would fund gargantuan tax cuts for megarich campaign donors and would lead to the slashing of vital public services such as Medicaid, Medicare, public education and nutrition assistance. Reconciliation is nothing but a partisan money grab: a ploy to let corporations raid the treasury that could not possibly survive the normal legislative process.
We're facing potentially hundreds of poison pill riders in federal spending legislation that has to be passed in December. Here's what's at stake.
The House is expected to take up the Trump administration's $29 billion funding request for hurricane and wildfire relief next week, but there's already signs of trouble for the latest batch of disaster spending. Democrats, including House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have strongly spoken out in recent days about adding controversial measures to the bill, which would make it harder to pass. During his floor speech yesterday, Schumer warned Republicans — "particularly those in the House" — against including "extraneous, ideological policy riders" to the supplemental.
The budget process should be about taking care of our families and communities, not undermining them, and it shouldn’t be used to roll back hard-won, critical consumer protections. But Republicans in Congress have it backwards. Instead, they’re proposing abusive budget resolutions with dangerous reconciliation instructions that set the stage for tax handouts to the rich as well as appropriations bills with hundreds of dangerous policy riders that have nothing to do with funding our government.
“What the House passed today does not bring us any closer to responsibly funding the government, and it will not pass the Senate,” Leahy said in a Sept. 14 press release. Further weakening the legislation’s chances are amendments added by the House Rules Committee, including one that seeks to prohibit funding for OSHA’s Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses final rule. An amendment that called for a 10 percent cut to MSHA funding and staffing failed, as did one that called for a 1 percent cut to the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and their related agencies. A proposed amendment that blocked funding for OSHA’s regulation on respirable crystalline silica was not brought to a vote. “[The bill] contains poison-pill riders that have no place in the appropriations process,” Leahy said in the release.
Last Thursday, the House passed a $1.2 trillion FY 2018 omnibus bill, H.R. 3354, by a vote of 211-198. The House spending package has prompted debates over topline spending numbers as well as the inclusion of policy riders (i.e. policies that are attached to spending bills that do not relate to spending). Much to Democrats’ chagrin, the House omnibus bill would block funds for Planned Parenthood, cut funding for non-defense agencies such as USDA and EPA and provide funding for portions of a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.
The House voted Thursday to pass a $1.2 trillion government-wide spending bill for fiscal 2018. For the Interior and EPA portion, the bill included cuts to numerous major programs and policy riders aimed at overturning or preventing regulations. One such provision would block the EPA from enforcing the Obama administration's methane rule for oil and natural gas drilling, which the Trump administration is working to roll back. The House voted on that provision Wednesday. It also voted for an amendment to block the federal government from using the social cost of carbon, an accounting mechanism for regulations that Trump has already scuttled.
The House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill that contains five riders, or amendments, that curtail the District's ability to govern itself, including repealing or blocking funding for two D.C. laws that have already been implemented.
The U.S. House has voted in favor of a measure that prohibits the D.C. government from using funds to carry out a local non-discrimination law called the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act. As it stands, the law makes it illegal for employers in the District to discriminate against workers based on their decision to use birth control, get an abortion, or any other reproductive health decisions. The D.C. Council passed the law in 2014, and members of Congress have attempted to block its implementation every year since. The House measure to block the law was introduced by Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) as an amendment to an appropriations bill. On Thursday, the House voted 214-194 in favor of including the amendment. Palmer introduced a similar measure last year; it passed in the House, but was never voted on in the Senate.
League of Conservation Voters Deputy Legislative Director Alex Taurel released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3354, an appropriations bill that includes dozens of harmful policy riders and slashes funding for priorities like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Last week, Democratic leaders in Congress negotiated with President Trump to ensure that our government stays fully funded for the next three months. Today, Republicans in the House are forcing a vote on a long-term funding bill that is full of the wrong priorities. It is a cruel bill, and I staunchly oppose it. In addition to cutting critical initiatives that help families and businesses succeed, the bill also includes dozens and dozens of damaging “policy riders.” These controversial policy changes – like defunding Planned Parenthood and cutting off funding for the Affordable Care Act– have no place in a bill that we need to keep our government running.
The House bill does cut more than $530 million from the agency's $8 billion budget, slashing it to less than the agency was spending in 2006. Final passage by the House will likely come Thursday, but any differences with a Senate version will need to be reconciled. The bill contained hundreds of amendments, many of them "riders" of the kind attached to appropriations bills to score policy points. Dozens of these proposals have drawn criticism from environmental groups.
The House is moving toward approval of a spending bill that contains a provision to kill the Labor Department's fiduciary rule, the latest attempt by congressional Republicans to use legislative means to stop the regulation. The House was set to vote on more than two dozen amendments to the appropriations measure Wednesday afternoon. The bill, along with the so-called rider on the DOL rule, is headed for certain approval by the end of the week.
Once again, the time has come to keep the Government open. Congress controls the purse strings and ever since the 2013 Government shutdown debacle, Congress has opted to punt on passing a budget. Last week, they passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) temporarily keeping the Government open at current levels though the first week of December. One of the major hurdles Congress deals with during appropriations season is the policy rider. Written as a budget amendment, policy riders typically forbid the Government from spending any money to perform a function the law otherwise requires. Often, the purpose is to slow or stop regulations.
GOP members of Congress and their counterparts in the Administration have somehow not grown tired of brazenly attacking fundamental environmental protections. Case-in-point: Wednesday, September 13th, the House Natural Resources Committee is holding a markup on seven bills that threaten the role of science and citizen engagement in federal decision-making on public lands, resources, and wildlife. By continuing a dangerous trend of limiting public involvement in government decisions, subverting scientific considerations in favor of political calculations, and undermining the rule of law, these bills and their sponsors not only attack our environment—they attack the foundation of our democracy.
Although Republicans appeared to have rejected the White House’s call for sharp cuts to the EPA, their disdain for the agency has reappeared as the House debated amendments to the often contentious Interior-Environment spending bill on the House floor last week. The 80 amendments House lawmakers sifted through consisted of Democrats’ attempts to remove what they described as harmful environmental riders from the measure, and Republicans’ measures to further reduce spending on environmental programs and give the Trump administration more authority to advance its deregulatory agenda. The Democratic amendments were mostly thwarted by the GOP majority.
The Senate bill is without any labor-related policy riders seen in the House version. It also “rejects” the Trump administration’s proposal to merge the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and a DOL subagency in charge of monitoring federal contractors’ affirmative action and nondiscrimination compliance. The House version would cut 11 percent from DOL and NLRB funding. It also includes a number of labor-related policy riders, including one to undo the Browning-Ferris decision on joint employment.
The House adopted an amendment to its massive fiscal 2018 spending package that would prevent livestock operations from having to report air emissions of ammonia and other hazardous substances. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., argued that the reporting requirement was needed to protect rural residents who may be harmed from the emissions. “Policy riders like this do not belong in the appropriations bills. And the EPA should either accept the court decision or they should appeal the court decision,” she said.
As debate continues on the spending bill, dozens of environmental amendments could receive votes. Despite sharp cuts and regressive policy riders, there is a significant portion of the House who believe this spending bill is not extreme enough. A number of amendments would make bad legislation even worse for our public lands.
Today the U.S. Senate passed a package of bills to provide emergency assistance to Hurricane Harvey victims, extend the debt ceiling and continue to fund government operations for the next three months. The legislation is free of harmful, anti-environmental riders that have been inserted into spending legislation in the past and are pending on the House floor.
We write to strongly urge you to oppose the campaign finance riders that are attached to the House Financial Services appropriations bill scheduled to be considered today by the House. House leaders have prevented floor consideration of serious campaign finance reform measures since they took control of the House in 2011. Instead of following regular order in the consideration of such legislation, they have used riders attached to appropriations bills to enact damaging campaign finance-related provisions while avoiding any opportunity for the House to consider or vote on the provisions separately.
On behalf of our millions of members and supporters, we urge you to oppose H.R. 3354. This bill does not responsibly or adequately fund the federal government or the many programs and thousands of civil servants tasked with implementing our nation’s landmark environmental laws, laws that protect our health, air, climate, water, oceans, wildlife, and treasured American landscapes.