Appropriators Must Not Backtrack on Removing Harmful Legacy Riders
Nov. 12, 2019
Tonight, leading appropriators in both chambers of Congress will meet in their latest attempt to resolve disagreements over topline funding levels. Lawmakers should not allow the debate over funding levels to undermine the consensus that has been reached on excluding poison pill riders that harm the public, nor should they backtrack on the progress that already has been made on removing inappropriate legacy riders held over from previous budget cycles.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed 10 of the 12 appropriations bills before the August recess and removed a variety of harmful legacy riders that otherwise would have been included in those bills. Senate appropriators should remove these measures, as well.
Campaign finance legacy riders that were removed would have prevented the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from finishing a rule requiring corporations to disclose their political spending. Other riders would have blocked a rule requiring the disclosure of government contractors’ political spending and stopped the IRS and the U.S. Treasury Department from clarifying the rules around nonprofit political activity.
Environmental legacy riders that were removed would have blocked endangered species protections for the greater sage grouse, several rules aimed at measuring and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, limits on lead in ammunition used for hunting that poisons the environment and more.
Public health legacy riders that were removed would have targeted important initiatives and programs in the District of Columbia, blocking funding for women’s health, decriminalization of marijuana and a syringe exchange program needed to prevent the transmission of HIV. Other legacy riders in the public health space targeted nutritional guidelines, U.N. family planning funding and studies of toxic chemicals.
Measures that block solutions to the corrupting influence of money in politics, attack wildlife and our environment, interfere with the District of Columbia’s self-determination, and block critical national and global health protections do not belong in federal spending bills. Dozens of groups in the Clean Budget Coalition are united in calling for their removal and have spoken out about the harmful impacts of these measures.
Threatening to keep legacy riders that House lawmakers already removed would increase the risk of a costly and disruptive government shutdown – and further delay a budget process that should have wrapped up in September. With the impeachment process heating up and the White House threatening retaliation, this is no time for lawmakers to risk another painful shutdown.
Even if appropriators reach consensus on spending levels in tonight’s talks, it will take time for Senate lawmakers to revise, mark up and pass 12 appropriations bills – and for both chambers to reconcile the differences between the bills. Accordingly, Congress is expected to pass a continuing resolution before the Nov. 21 funding deadline, pushing back the deadline to mid-December and giving themselves ample time to pass FY 2020 funding bills.
Congress should do its job and finish the FY 2020 appropriations process – ideally before the end of the year – and leave out the harmful legacy riders that never belonged.
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