750 Poison Pill Policy Riders Attached to F.Y. 2017 Appropriations

Nov. 4, 2016 | Download PDF

Contact: Lisa Gilbert, lgilbert@citizen.org, (202) 454-5188
Sabrina De Santiago, sdesantiago@americanprogress.org, (202) 742-6281

Legislation that funds our government is no place for poison pill policy riders. Policy riders are provisions that address unrelated policy issues and are slipped into appropriations bills to win approval as part of must-pass funding legislation. Most riders are intended to advance the priorities of corporate donors and ideologically motivated supporters; most are measures that the public opposes and that the president would likely veto as standalone legislation.

Key Facts About Riders

The Clean Budget Coalition, an alliance of hundreds of organizations opposed to these harmful provisions, has compiled a list of all riders attached to fiscal year 2017 funding legislation.

  • More than 750 riders would have significant and harmful impacts on American workers, consumers, families, women and the environment.
  • Each of the 24 appropriations bills includes, on average, more than 30 poison pill policy riders that must be taken out.
  • Nearly two-thirds of the harmful riders originated in the U.S. House of Representatives. The remainder originated in the U.S. Senate.

Examples of Poison Pill Policy Riders

There are far too many riders to list, all of which merit strong opposition. The examples that follow are intended as a representative sample; in some instances, there are several riders that would inflict similar or identical harms. Riders attached to appropriations legislation would:

Harm working families…

  • Block the overtime rule that increases pay for millions of hardworking Americans;
  • Allow employers in D.C. to fire workers over their reproductive health decisions;
  • Allow employers and health insurance companies to refuse to cover any service to which they object – such as contraception – on any grounds whatsoever;
  • Block a rule to hold government contractors accountable for serious labor law violations;

Sabotage public protections and the regulatory process…

  • Block all financial reform regulations to hold Wall Street accountable;
  • Allow Congress to bar any new science-based safeguards for the public;
  • Obstruct a rule requiring agencies to acknowledge the social costs of carbon emissions;
  • Prohibit funding for the enforcement of new health, safety and financial protections;
  • Block any new major public protection with economic impacts over $100 million;

Add to the corrosive nature of money and politics…

  • Stop the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from requiring publicly traded corporations to disclose their political spending to shareholders;
  • Prohibit the IRS from creating a clear definition of political activity to clarify when nonprofits may engage in the democratic process;
  • Halt executive action to require federal contractors to disclose their political spending;

Harm American consumers…

  • Create additional obstacles to a rule restricting forced arbitration clauses, which allow corporations to rip off consumers with impunity;
  • Allow financial advisers to continue providing conflicted and misleading investment advice to American workers saving for retirement;
  • Block a requirement that career education programs receiving federal student aid must prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation;
  • Delay restrictions on predatory lending and let state and tribal governments opt out;
  • Block a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission rule that would make voluntary corrective action plans for product safety recalls legally binding;
  • Weaken consumer protections to make home buying safer and more transparent;
  • Block the Net Neutrality rule, which keeps the Internet a level playing field;

Damage our planet and our environment…

  • Weaken the Clean Air Act and block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which is designed to reduce pollution from power plants;
  • Block the finalization of the Stream Protection Rule, which would protect public health and waterways impacted by mountaintop removal mining;
  • Preclude the U.S. Department of the Interior from updating the federal coal program;
  • Block new national monuments to protect natural, cultural and historic treasures;
  • Subvert management of national wildlife refuges in Alaska and across the country;
  • Cut funding for a rule requiring companies to report on minerals from conflict zones;
  • Require the EPA to treat wood biomass as producing zero carbon emissions, despite the fact that the emissions from it are often worse for the climate than coal;
  • Bar protections for the gray wolf, the greater sage grouse and other endangered species;

Trample on civil rights…

  • Exclude noncitizens and undocumented residents from census counts;
  • Block a rule requiring recipients of federal housing and community development funds to demonstrate that those funds are being spent fairly and equitably;

Destroy public health and safety…

  • Stop the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from giving generic drug manufacturers the ability to update their labels when new health risks are discovered;
  • Open the door to candy-flavored cigars and e-cigarettes marketed at kids;
  • Exempt some cigars from basic FDA oversight, including those with flavors;
  • Bar family planning funding for health groups overseas that support abortion services;
  • Delay the updated ozone standard, thereby increasing asthma attacks and fatalities;
  • Block the Clean Water Rule to protect drinking water for one-third of all Americans;
  • Delay measures to protect public infrastructure from flooding and;
  • Block a rule that protects more than two million workers from deadly silica dust.