MEDIA ALERT: A Government Shutdown Over House GOP’s Poison Pill Riders


President Joe Biden invited the “Big Four” leaders — House Speaker Mike Johnson, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries — to the White House on Tuesday morning to discuss the standoff over the annual spending bills. Without a resolution or another short-term stopgap, a partial government shutdown will begin this weekend.

Embarrassed by their lack of accomplishments, MAGA House Republicans see the must-pass spending bills as their best chance to pass harmful policies that could not become law on their own merits. They’ve added more than 560 partisan poison pills to their draft spending bills, and according to multiple press reports, the fight has come down to whether or not to include these measures. The White House, House Democrats, Senate Democrats, and even Senate Republicans have already repeatedly rejected the idea of packing spending bills with non-spending matters.

Many of the poison pills are culture war provisions that attack women, immigrants, people of color, and LGBTQ+ Americans. Others double-down on the lies behind the January 6th insurrection, fuel gun violence, and codify climate denial into law. Many attack abortion rights, block access to reproductive health care, and roll back widely available contraception. Some would let businesses steal from workers and scam consumers. Still others fuel misinformation, corruption, and financial crime. All of them must be removed.

In addition to hundreds of these harmful measures, many of the poison pills are beyond absurd. From bans on drag queens and pride flags to one-dollar salaries for top Cabinet officials to special favors for crypto bros, House Republicans have added dozens of measures that strain credulity. To be clear, they are risking a government shutdown over keeping cigarettes more addictive, interfering with local D.C. traffic laws, and finding out who left a dime bag of cocaine in the White House. The annual spending bills are no place for any of this nonsense.

Despite many attempts to get rid of them, poison pills that have become law through the appropriations process are very rarely repealed. As Clean Budget Coalition Co-Chair Lisa Gilbert told The Washington Post, “Once they go in, in a single appropriations cycle, they don’t come out in the next one.” That is why it is so crucial for the White House, Democrats in both chambers, and Senate Republicans to remain firm in their commitment to spending bills free from toxic poison pills.

Lisa Gilbert and other Clean Budget Coalition leaders are available to speak with reporters, columnists, and editorial board members about the dangers of poison pills both before and after the Tuesday morning’s “Big Four” meeting at the White House. Please contact David Rosen at to speak with them.