Congress Must Remove Hundreds of Poison Pill Riders From the Omnibus


More than halfway into the fiscal year, Congress finally has reached a two-year budget deal and can take the next step. While it is problematic that the bill advantages military spending over domestic spending, it increases funding levels across the board. Congress now can turn to the task of appropriating the funds needed to keep the programs and protections we all care about running. But standing in the way of a final funding package are hundreds of partisan poison pill riders that must be removed from the omnibus.

Nearly all of these riders are handouts to big corporations and special favors for ideological extremists that could not become law on their own merits and have absolutely nothing to do with funding our government. Most of them are deeply unpopular and highly controversial. Bypassing the normal legislative process, lawmakers have attached these measures to must-pass appropriations bills as riders. It’s sneaky, underhanded and undemocratic – and these riders must be removed before the March 23 funding deadline established in the budget agreement. Just a few of these proposed poison pill riders would:

– Repeal safe drinking water protections for 117 million Americans;

– Leave retirement savers at risk of conflicted financial advice;

– Blind the federal government to the economic costs of climate change;

– Allow employers, insurers and health care providers to deny women access to reproductive care;

– Let churches and charities engage in partisan politics;

– Stop the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from policing Wall Street;

– Block a requirement that oil and gas companies reduce methane waste;

– Block ongoing and potentially lifesaving research involving fetal tissue;- Block a rule aimed at limiting abuses by payday lenders;

– Block a rule requiring publicly traded companies to disclose political spending to shareholders; and much more.

The continuing resolution that Congress just passed even contained an inappropriate rider on social impact partnerships that could create budget and policy problems for state and local governments and result in the privatization of crucial public services.

While our nearly 200 coalition members are disappointed that Congress did not maintain parity between defense and nondefense spending increases, and Congress still needs to move quickly to protect the Dreamers, we are pleased that Congress can take steps toward responsible governing. Congress should not allow dangerous riders to stand in the way. The Clean Budget Coalition is calling on Congress and the White House to pass a clean budget with no harmful riders, one that funds our communities and protects our families.