Congress Must Pass a Clean Budget With No Poison Pills or Legacy Riders
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 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. In past years, some of them managed to sneak through and are then held over from previous budget cycles as “legacy riders.” Dozens of organizations have joined together to form the Clean Budget Coalition in opposition to these measures. We’re calling on lawmakers to pass clean spending bills ahead of the September 30, 2021 funding deadline.
Clean Budget News & Resources (FY 2022)
Less than four months before a possible government shutdown, House appropriators will begin a frantic sprint this week to get new fiscal 2022 spending bills passed before current money runs out. But partisan splits over national security and domestic spending coupled with gridlock in the Senate make it a long shot that any of the bills will become law before the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. Instead, Congress is likely to work on the bills throughout the fall and pass a series of short-term measures that will keep current funding in place until a final deal can be reached. The process could be further complicated by ongoing talks over a multitrillion-dollar infrastructure deal. On the other hand, the wheels could be greased with the return of congressional earmarks. Here's what to watch over the next several weeks on the appropriations front.
One of the budget’s shortcomings, however, lies where Washington, D.C., is involved. The nation’s capital has spent the last decade trying to fully legalize marijuana and join the majority of states that have chipped away at prohibition over the last decade. Currently, it is legal for adults aged 21 and older to possess small amounts of marijuana, and even give small amounts of it to others as a gift. But it’s not legal to sell it anywhere in the District of Columbia, which means that the city’s lawmakers can neither regulate the drug nor raise revenue from its sales through taxation—a bad outcome for both public health and public coffers. The city has repeatedly asked Congress for changes to these arrangements. Its hopes have been stymied by a GOP-crafted provision known as the Harris Rider, through which Congress has effectively banned the district from legalizing marijuana in the way many other states have done. In his new budget proposal, Biden kept the rider intact.
The Clean Budget Coalition is reminding lawmakers to remove legacy poison pills from the annual spending bills ahead of the anticipated announcement of President Joe Biden’s budget proposal, which will kick-start the annual appropriations process.
Poison pill riders took off during the Obama administration, as Republican lawmakers sought to block Democratic-led agencies from developing a broad range of new public interest regulations. Caught in the crosshairs were worker health and safety protections, controls on greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, measures to promote women’s access to family planning services and other crucial safeguards. If enacted, these riders would have made it illegal for agencies to spend a single penny on implementing the targeted regulations.