Congress Must Pass a Clean Budget With No Poison Pill Riders
More Than 260 Organizations Are Calling for Clean Spending Bills With No Poison Pills
Every year, Congress must pass a series of budget and spending bills to fund the services and safeguards that protect our families and communities. In recent years, lawmakers have threatened to attach hundreds of harmful policy riders to this legislation that would weaken, repeal or block essential public protections. Most of these measures are special favors for big corporations and ideological extremists that have nothing to do with funding our government and could not become law on their own merits. More than 260 organizations have joined together to form the Clean Budget Coalition in opposition to these poison pills. We’re calling on federal lawmakers to pass a clean budget with no harmful riders. FY 2018 funding expires on Dec. 7, 2018. Follow us @regsrock.
On September 28, Trump signed a giant appropriations bill that also prevented a government shutdown over border wall funded until December. Other than conservatives angry about abortion funding, no one much noticed, thanks to the Kavanaugh hearings. As congressional Republicans kept reassuring us all and each other, Trump was bluffing, and so he signed that “ridiculous Spending Bill” in what amounted to peaceful silence as Washington hung on every word from Kavanaugh and Ford and Flake and Graham and all the other characters in the confirmation drama. Government employees affected by the non-shutdown and the specific provisions of the appropriations measures noticed, of course. And so, too, did Christian-right types who were angry that their pet appropriations riders were left out. Here was the headline from CNS News on the story about the bill: “Trump Signs ‘Minibus’-CR That Funds Planned Parenthood and Aborted Baby-Parts Research.” Some of the same disgruntled conservatives may hope that Trump opts for a government shutdown when the continuing resolution runs out in December. It may be all they want for Christmas. But for now, there aren’t too many people noticing enough to share their outrage.
President Trump on Friday signed into law a spending bill that will provide full-year appropriations for several federal agencies and stopgap funding for a portion of government, staving off a partial shutdown at least until December. Lawmakers this week boasted of their accomplishments, noting that it had been 22 years since they last successfully passed as many full-year appropriations on time. Now that Trump has signed the bill into law, the Defense Department will not be forced to operate temporarily under a CR for the first time in 10 years. The Senate last week easily approved the bill. Democrats celebrated that the final bill, which went to conference committee after the House and Senate passed their own versions of it, was stripped of “poison pill” riders and fully funded agencies over Trump’s objections.
Clean-water opponents are pushing riders that would repeal the Clean Water Rule with nearly every piece of must-pass legislation in Congress, including the Farm Bill and appropriations bills that are still up for debate. Elsewhere, EPA Acting Administrator and former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler will soon unveil plans to replace existing policy with a rule that would slash protections for wetlands, streams and drinking water sources. If these efforts prevail, it will be a boon for developers, pipeline operators, and oil and gas companies, at the expense of Minnesotans water and health.
The House on Wednesday passed an $854 billion spending bill to avert an October shutdown, funding large swaths of the government while pushing the funding deadline for others until Dec. 7. The bill passed by 361-61, a week after the Senate passed an identical measure by a vote of 93-7. The package included two appropriations bills, which fully funded Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education for fiscal 2019, and make up about two-thirds of the annual appropriations total for the year. It also included a continuing resolution (CR) extending current funding levels for any unfunded agencies through the first two months of the fiscal year. “Just as important is what this bill does not include, the unnecessary partisan riders that caused House Democrats to oppose Labor-HHS in the appropriations committee,” said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), alluding to a variety of conservative policies that appeared in the original House version of the bill, including provisions restricting access to abortion and targeting Planned Parenthood. House conservatives were incensed that policy riders that passed in their chamber were stripped out of the final versions during negotiations with the Senate, which requires 60 votes to pass spending legislation. If Trump signs the bill, it will be the first time in 22 years that five spending bills were enacted on time. Last week, Trump signed a package of three bills, including military construction and veterans' affairs, legislative branch and energy and water. In total, the five bills amount to some 77 percent of the annual discretionary spending total. Meanwhile, the House and Senate were rushing to iron out differences on a third package of bills, including Agriculture, Interior, Transportation, and Financial Services and general government. With the House expected to adjourn on Friday until after the midterm elections, failure to do so would punt action on the bills until November or December.
The passed legislation package was a compromise from previous House- and Senate-passed versions. Appropriators in both chambers reconciled the versions into one package that the Senate passed Sept. 18. Senate and House versions of the legislation greatly mirrored each other in regard to proposed cuts to DOL spending. The House previously passed an appropriations package that would cut NLRB funding by about 5 percent. The compromise legislation also removed controversial labor-related policy riders like a provision that would have reversed an Obama-era NLRB decision expanding joint employer liability for businesses in staffing, franchise, and other contractual relationships.