Dirty Riders Threaten Clean Funding Legislation

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Hundreds of Poison Pill Riders That Would Harm Americans Must Be Removed

Following a bipartisan budget deal reached in February, Congress must pass an omnibus appropriations package by March 23 that funds our government for fiscal year 2018. One of the main obstacles standing in the way of a final deal is the proposed inclusion of hundreds of poison pill policy riders (PDF) – special favors for big corporations and ideological extremists that are dangerous to the public and too controversial to pass on their own merits. These measures threaten working people, consumers, women, children, civil rights, our environment and our economy, and they must be removed from any final funding package.

It is a sign of lawmakers’ misplaced priorities that they found time to insert hundreds of extraneous provisions into federal spending bills, even as they spent much of the past year struggling to reach consensus on funding levels. That is why members of both parties, including the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, have criticized corporate and ideological riders as an impediment to responsible governing. The Clean Budget Coalition came together in 2015 to fight harmful riders that have no place in government funding legislation. Our coalition includes nearly 200 local, state and national groups representing a diverse cross section of the public interest community.

We are writing to ask you to make harmful riders a prominent part of your coverage because of their far-reaching impacts.

Poison pill riders touch on a wide variety of issues:

ANTI-ENVIRONMENT RIDERS would: Blind the federal government to the economic costs of climate change. Repeal the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Rule, which would protect safe drinking water for 117 million Americans. Block the U.S. Department of Justice from entering into agreements with polluters that require them to make payments to third-party actors as part of a legal settlement. Halt a proposed rule from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to limit carbon monoxide emissions from portable generators, which kill 70 people every year. Block a requirement for the oil and gas industry to reduce methane venting, flaring and leaks at industry operations on public and tribal lands. Exempt Alaskan forests from one of the most significant conservation measures of the last century – the roadless area conservation rule – fundamentally undermining the protection nationally, and allowing harmful clear-cut logging in the crown jewel of our national forests, Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Eliminate Endangered Species Act protections for imperiled species such as wolves, sage grouse and lesser prairie chickens.

ANTI-IMMIGRANT RIDERS would: Prohibit the expenditure of any money on the 2020 census unless it asks questions about U.S. citizenship and immigration status, destroying any chance for a fair and accurate count of every person in the United States required by the U.S. Constitution. Withdraw federal funding from so-called “sanctuary cities,” a term that incorrectly implies some states and municipalities are refusing to work with federal immigration enforcement authorities. Limit access to reproductive health services for women detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

ANTI-WOMEN RIDERS would: Allow employers, insurers and health care providers to deny women access to reproductive health care. Prevent Planned Parenthood from participating in any government-funded health care programs including Medicaid, the Title X Family Planning Program, HIV prevention grants, maternal and child health programs and evidence-based reproductive education programs. Block ongoing and potentially lifesaving research involving fetal tissue. Reinstate the global gag rule, which denies global health assistance to foreign organizations that provide information, referrals or services for legal abortion.

ANTI-WORKER RIDERS would: Stop the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from collecting pay data that could reveal pay discrimination, improve enforcement of pay discrimination laws and increase voluntary compliance with those laws. Suspend a key portion of a federal rule requiring a minimum period of rest for truckers working long hours.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE RIDERS would: Prevent the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from finalizing a popular new rule (supported by more than 1.2 million Americans) to require public companies to disclose their political spending to shareholders. Allow churches and religious organizations to engage in partisan politics while remaining tax-exempt organizations, threatening to divide congregations and let unlimited, undisclosed spending into the political process. Stop the IRS from developing a new political activity definition for 501(c)(4)s to clarify what tax-exempt entities can and cannot do in the political process. Stop federal contractors from being required to disclose their political spending. Loosen campaign finance coordination limits, which would allow candidates to spend significantly more.

GUN RIDERS would: Chill scientific research into gun violence at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that could help protect toddlers from accidently firing a weapon, prevent gun-related suicides and help evaluate the effectiveness of public education, background checks and other commonsense measures to reduce needless injuries and deaths.

WALL STREET RIDERS would: Eliminate the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) supervision and enforcement authority for the largest financial institutions. Prohibit the CFPB from adopting or enforcing rules for payday loans that keep low-income people and families trapped in endless cycles of debt. Repeal the Volcker Rule, which prohibits banks from engaging in excessively risky investment and trading activities. Make it far more difficult for the U.S. Financial Stability Oversight Council to designate nonbanks as systemically important institutions that could threaten the economy. Weaken stress tests for the largest banks. Halt enforcement of the U.S. Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, which ensures that financial advisers work in their clients’ best interests instead of lining their own pockets.

There are hundreds of harmful riders like these – far too many to list here. All of them should be removed from the final omnibus spending package. The Clean Budget Coalition hopes that as you cover the omnibus spending deal, you will make these riders a central part of the story. Please visit CleanBudget.org to learn more or contact us to speak with an expert.

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