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 Sept. 30, 2018. Follow us @regsrock.
Congress, fearing a government shutdown, is pressing to pass as many spending bills as possible before the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. Negotiations in the coming weeks will cover policy riders, programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and whether to approve emergency dollars for wildfires. The Senate returns today for a rare mid-August session, where its main goal will be advancing the two largest of the 12 annual appropriations measures in a single package. Together, the Defense and Labor-Health and Human Services bills would account for nearly 3 out of every 4 discretionary dollars to be spent in fiscal 2019. Senate GOP leaders are due to call up the defense spending bill, S. 3159, later today. The idea is to later amend it to attach the Labor-HHS bill, S. 3158. If a truce on avoiding controversial riders holds, the legislation could pass by next week and the Senate would then likely join the House in a summer break that will extend until just after Labor Day. Controversial policy riders are likely to disappear from any final spending bills in a bid to avoid a Senate blockade.
The Senate on Thursday is set to begin debate on a bill combining the two largest appropriations measures, testing a bipartisan agreement by leaders of both parties to keep the process free of controversial policy riders. But it will be a tough test for Senate leadership to keep the appropriations process on track as senators consider controversial amendments related to abortion, education policy, and child detention centers. Leadership is hoping to tamp down any inflammatory amendments that could derail the process.
he turf wars over the Endangered Species Act are being played out between those who stand to gain in increasingly obscene ways vs. those who are trying to save the turf itself. Playing their hide-and-sneak games, congressional sponsors of destructive provisions to the Endangered Species Act are slipping the controversial legislation in as riders alongside unrelated must-pass topics, such as budget or defense bills. That insidious practice is done all the time, and should be illegal, but it's how they play in D.C.
Every year, the Interior bill becomes a vehicle for all manner of controversial riders that impact our nation’s wildlife. This year was certainly no exception. But what’s new this cycle is a tucked-away provision that would adversely affect some of our most iconic and treasured animals: wild horses, which embody a spirit of freedom for so many Americans. Under an amendment by Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (which oversees much of the land these animals inhabit) could launch a mass surgical sterilization program for stallions and mares. Wild horses are protected by the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which established a policy of allowing these “living symbols … of the West” to thrive on public lands. This latest rider circumvents the law’s intent because mass permanent sterilizations would lead to nonreproducing herds and nonviable populations.
Republicans in the western United States have been trying to whittle away the Endangered Species Act (ESA) since Donald Trump took office. Under new proposals, wildlife managers would limit protections for species designated as “threatened” (a level below endangered), consider the economic costs prior to defending a species, and de-emphasize long-term threats such as climate change. The proposals follow Republican bills and budget riders that would remove protections for gray wolves in the lower 48 states, exempt the greater sage-grouse from an ESA listing for 10 years, and increase state involvement in conservation decisions.