Representatives Schakowsky and Gallego Lead 172 Representatives in Calling For No Riders in Appropriations Bills

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–April 19, 2016.  Today, Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) released the following statement after leading 172 representatives in sending a letter to House Leadership urging that no divisive policy provisions be included in the 2017 appropriations bills:

“Divisive partisan policy riders have no place in our appropriations bills,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “Last year’s two-year budget agreement should’ve settled the issue and allowed both parties to work together to craft the 2017 appropriations bills. However, with the budget process breaking down there is a danger that conservative Members may try to break down the appropriations process by including radical policy riders to these bills. These provisions could block gun violence research, gut financial regulations in Dodd-Frank, limit reproductive choice, harm Social Security and Medicare, or prevent the United States from joining international climate agreements. I’m proud to stand with Ruben Gallego and 172 of my colleagues in opposing any appropriations bills that contains such contentious provisions. Last November our efforts led to most of the contentious riders being left out of the year-end spending bill. We will continue to stand united against these Republican efforts.”

“Last year, House Republicans tried to use the appropriations process to prevent the federal government from taking action to address the problems that matter to the American people,” said Rep. Gallego. “If, in the coming weeks, they once again insist on adding poison pill provisions to spending bills, the Republican Leadership will be leading us on the path to yet another unnecessary political impasse or even a damaging government shutdown. Democrats are united in calling on Speaker Ryan to end this pattern of reckless brinksmanship and pass clean appropriations bills to fully fund the federal government.”

The letter was welcomed by a broad range of public interest groups—ranging from labor unions to environmentalists to consumer advocates to women’s health groups—that make up the Clean Budget Coalition, which is dedicated to fighting ideological riders in spending bills. Their reactions follow:

The Clean Budget Coalition issued this statement: “The Clean Budget Coalition – an alliance of more than 100 groups opposed to inappropriate riders in federal spending bills – applauds the 172 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who are standing firm against the inclusion of controversial and unpopular policy riders in this year’s appropriations legislation. Most riders are little more than sweetheart deals for big corporations and special favors for ideological extremists that could not become law on their own merits. Unscrupulous lawmakers sneak them into must-pass spending bills to avoid a real debate. Despite a pledge to conduct the appropriations process through regular order, some lawmakers are already insisting on including these highly irregular and extraneous provisions. Whether we end up with 12 appropriations bills, a continuing resolution or an omnibus, special interest payback riders have no place in any legislation needed to fund our government.”

League of Conservation Voters Deputy Legislative Director Alex Taurel said,
“The American people deserve a budget that fully funds the environmental safeguards that protect our air, water, lands, and wildlife—not one that attacks those protections with anti-environmental policy riders. Ideological policy riders simply have no place in spending bills and their inclusion will only heighten the risk of an eventual government shutdown. If Republican leaders are serious about a return to “regular order,” they must abandon their inappropriate, unpopular, and harmful efforts to sneak anti-environmental and other poison-pill riders onto spending bills. We applaud Representatives Schakowsky and Gallego for leading this effort and look forward to working with them and their colleagues to continue the fight against anti-environmental policy riders.”

Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Director Lisa Gilbert said, “Public Citizen applauds the 172 members standing tall to call for a budget that is free from ideological riders. Already we have begun to see poison pill riders as the first subcommittee appropriations bills move through committee. For example, the Agriculture Appropriations bill contains an improper and controversial policy rider that would prohibit the FDA from moving forward on a regulatory change that would improve the safety of prescription drug labeling to protect consumers from unsafe drugs. Riders like this have no place in bills intended to fund the government. As members of the Clean Budget Coalition, we urge leadership and all members to stand firm on keeping the FY17 budget clean.”

The Wilderness Society’s Government Relations and Budget Specialist Cam Witten said, “Our nation’s public lands have been chronically underfunded for many years. The annual appropriations process should be utilized to invest in clean air, clean water, outdoor recreation and the public health benefits provided by our parks, forests, and wildlands. Instead, the federal appropriations process has become hijacked by attempts to add unpopular anti-environmental provisions to it. These controversial ‘riders’ have no place in annual appropriations discussions, and the broad opposition to such harmful provisions that this letter demonstrates is noteworthy as we look to restore the federal funding process to what it is intended to be.”

Americans for Financial Reform’s Executive Director Lisa Donner said, “Wall Street lobbyists and their friends in Congress keep on trying to roll back regulation and make it easier for big financial companies to take advantage of consumers, homeowners, investors, small business owners, and taxpayers. Since they could not get these measures passed in the open, they want to force them through by attaching them to ‘must pass’ government spending bills. They are using unacceptable means to try to reach a dangerous end.”

Peter Colavito, Director of Government Relations at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said, “Riders from the Republican leadership are a way they try to manipulate the rules in favor of the wealthy few and big corporations. Working families want Congress to do its job and send President Obama clean spending bills.”

Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association, said, “The American Lung Association urges opposition to all policy riders. They are used by certain industries to undermine public health safeguards that clean up the air we breathe and protect our nation’s youth from cigars and e-cigarettes.”

American Association for Justice Director of Regulatory Affairs Sarah Rooney said, “Powerful corporations press Congress to use the budget process to sneak in unpopular policies at their behest. These policies, whether they weaken consumer protection, public safety, or citizens’ ability to hold wrongdoers accountable, would not pass into law if considered as individual legislation.”

See the letter here.

Organizations Endorsing the Letter:

AFL-CIO, African American Health Alliance, AFSCME, The AIDS Institute, Alabaster, American Association for Justice, American Association of University Women, American Federation of Teachers – AFL-CIO, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Rivers, Americans for Financial Reform, The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, The Cave Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Clean Water Action, Coalition for Health Funding, Coalition on Human Needs, Defenders of Wildlife, Democracy 21, Earthjustice, Environment America, EPI Policy Center, Green Science Policy Institute, The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, League of Conservation Voters, Main Street Alliance, MomsRising, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Association of Consumer Advocates, National Association of Social Workers (NASW), National Education Association, National Fair Housing Alliance, National Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, NETWORK – A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, New America’s Open Technology Institute, Oceana, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Progressive Congress, Public Citizen, Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities Coalition, SEIU, Sierra Club, Trust for America’s Health, United Automobile & Aerospace Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), United Steelworkers (USW), US PIRG, The Wilderness Society, Voices for Progress