173 Groups Call on Congress to Pass a Clean Budget With No Ideological Riders

July 5, 2017

Contact: David Rosen, drosen@citizen.org, (202) 588-7742

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, 173 public interest groups sent a letter to Congress demanding a clean budget free from ideological policy riders. The letter – which includes more than 50 state and local organizations as signatories – was organized by the Clean Budget Coalition, which is calling on Congress and the White House to pass a clean budget with no ideological riders that funds and protects thriving families and communities.

“President Trump has proposed a budget rigged for billionaires and big business featuring deep cuts that endanger our health and safety, our workplaces and wallets, as well as our environment and our economy,” the letter reads. “In addition to being free from poison pill riders, any budget passed through Congress must go far beyond both this paltry Presidential proposal and the obviously inadequate sequester funding levels, to robustly fund agencies and programs to protect the public.”

Earlier this year, hundreds of riders – most of them special favors for big corporations and ideological extremists – were proposed as a part of the FY17 omnibus process. The Clean Budget Coalition and its allies in Congress blocked most of them. Now, with the FY18 budget process getting underway, some members of Congress once again are insisting on including riders. The coalition maintains that these measures, which have nothing to do with funding our government, have no place in the appropriations process.

 

Below are statements from Clean Budget Coalition leaders:

“It’s bad enough that Trump and Republicans in Congress are proposing deep and painful funding cuts to the agencies that protect us. But they’re also threatening to attach hundreds of harmful policy riders to the budget that would repeal essential public protections designed to prevent tragedies for individuals, families, businesses and communities. By insisting on riders, lawmakers are risking a costly and disruptive government shutdown in September that nobody wants. Special favors for special interests must be kept out of the process.”

— Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs, Public Citizen

“It’s simple: Congress needs to pass a clean spending bill, not exploit the appropriations process to politicize science. It’s unacceptable to put the clear and enormously popular goals of landmark science-based laws like the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act at risk by subterfuge in the process of funding our government. Such ideological riders on spending bills jeopardize the health and safety of millions of Americans, especially communities of color and low-income communities.”

— Dr. Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy, Union of Concerned Scientists

“The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is wild and spectacular, and belongs to all Americans. Yet Congress wants to plunder the Arctic Refuge for the speculative revenues. Any attempt to sneak the Refuge into the budget process has nothing to do with balancing the budget – but everything to do with the influence and power of the oil lobby. Instead, we call on Congress to keep the Arctic Refuge out of the budget process and pass a clean budget with no dirty riders.”

— Kristen Miller, interim executive director, Alaska Wilderness League

“President Trump and congressional Republicans have shown time and again that they are more concerned with giving tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy than helping working families survive and thrive. Americans deserve a federal budget that safeguards their health care and invests in the programs and services they rely on. Congressional Republicans need to stop wasting precious resources on their extreme ideological agendas and deliver a clean budget that meets human needs and is free of harmful policy riders that could not become law on their own merits.”

— Marge Baker, executive vice president, People For the American Way

“While the Trump administration continues to ignore ethical limits on corporate corruption of government, conservatives in Congress have been playing their own game of ‘pay to play’ politics for the last several years. In particular, conservative politicians have increasingly relied on budget riders that take away protections we all enjoy to benefit their corporate special interest benefactors. By blocking policies aimed at cleaning up our air and drinking water and preventing companies from cheating their customers, these riders can spare big business the cost of complying with sensible safeguards. For ordinary Americans, however, they leave hard working families less protected against irresponsible corporate conduct – and they deprive us of a meaningful voice in our representative democracy.”

— Thomas McGarity, board member, Center for Progressive Reform

“The president’s budget proposal already includes massive, unnecessary tax cuts for millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations, paid for by slashing basic living standards for the most vulnerable among us and by attacking critical programs like Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicaid, food assistance and more. As Congress moves forward on its own budget, it must serve the needs of all people and be free of any ideological policy riders. Such riders can seek to weaken protection against discrimination, undermine an accurate 2020 Census count or make it easier for financial institutions to prey on consumers. These kinds of provisions should not be adopted at all, and certainly not as riders to must-pass spending bills. If lawmakers insist on moving forward on these provisions, they should do so through an honest debate, in the light of day, in full view of the public.”

— Vanita Gupta, president and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

“This Congress is trying to score political points on the backs of poor women and families. The president’s cruel and senseless budget would decimate the Medicaid insurance program and continue the pain and punishment of the Hyde Amendment. The president’s budget is the manifestation of a disrespectful and damaging view of women – it’s deeply troubling. Trump’s budget takes away affordable birth control, punishes women who end their pregnancies and slashes programs women and families need to thrive. No matter what we choose, women are punished and our health suffers. We are calling on Congress to produce a budget that is free from riders that harm women and our ability to decide when to have children.”

— Destiny Lopez, co-director, All* Above All

“The National Fair Housing Alliance strongly advocates against policy riders that often side heavily with corporations, while blocking access to fair housing and consumer protections.”

— Shanna L. Smith, president and CEO, National Fair Housing Alliance

“Our country cannot afford to let legislators tuck unpopular, anti-consumer measures into the congressional budget bill to befriend special interests without any concern that these hidden favors harm consumers.”

— Linda Sherry, director of national priorities, Consumer Action

“The Trump budget tries to strangle the work government does to protect Americans from dirty air and water, tainted foods and other risks that citizens are not able to protect themselves against. Adding riders to these funding bills to undermine the laws that protect citizens to curry favor with K Street lobbyists must stop.”

— Scott Slesinger, legislative director, Natural Resources Defense Council

“The budget should put the public good first and not be a wish list for lobbyists and corporate interests. Any rider that hurts working Americans should not be on the budget bill.”

— Celine McNicholas, labor counsel, Economic Policy Institute Policy Center

“The American people don’t want Congress playing games with the budget and appropriations process, trying to pass laws by stealth that could never make it through the normal legislative process. One way Congress can begin to restore public faith in the institution is to pass a clean budget without any ideological riders.”

— Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator, National Employment Law Project

“Congress must pass the FY18 budget without policy riders that undermine essential safeguards such as fair housing protections. Failure to pass a clean budget puts vital investments in affordable housing and community development at risk. We urge Congress to reject harmful riders and pass a budget that serves low-income families, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads.”

— Diane Yentel, president and CEO, National Low Income Housing Coalition

“Technology changes at a rapid pace. In order to keep up with it, policy makers rely on expert agencies and in-depth analysis before making tech policy choices that could disrupt the record of innovation Americans have enjoyed over the past decade. Policy riders based in ideology, rather than technological analysis, market conditions or core consumer protections could slow or halt the innovation and entrepreneurship that American consumers currently benefit from. The best in tech policy is crafted through bipartisan agreement in the committees that investigate it every day.”

— Chris Lewis, vice president, Pubic Knowledge

“It’s disturbing that anti-conservationists in Congress try every year to undermine protections for America’s lands and waters through the appropriations process, when they think no one is looking. In recent years they have repeatedly tried to include a rider to bulldoze a road through the narrow, fragile Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, which would set a destructive precedent by weakening the Wilderness Act and undermining the National Wildlife Refuge System, and a rider to reverse the broadly supported sage grouse conservation plans, which is simply an invitation to the oil and gas industry to needlessly damage critical habitat for sage grouse and hundreds of other species that depend on America’s unique sage-steppe landscape.”

— Cameron Witten, government relations and budget specialist, The Wilderness Society

“American workers, families and children deserve a federal budget that puts their needs first. Yet all signs indicate that the House budget will be another version of the Trump budget – cutting health care, public education and Social Security to pay for massive tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations. On top of that, House Republicans are threatening to attach hundreds of harmful policy riders that could roll back essential protections like Wall Street reform that help protect millions of American consumers. A budget with devastating cuts and poisonous riders would undermine the security and progress of millions of Americans, including Latinos. Now is the time for members of Congress to put their constituencies first and enact a clean budget that invests in families and communities.”

— Eric Rodriguez, vice president of the office of research, advocacy and legislation, National Council of La Raza

“Congress should resist adding gifts for Big Food to this year’s budget measures. Critical public priorities from food safety to child nutrition need more support and funding to ensure public health, and should be clear of interference from special interests.”

— Laura MacCleery, director of regulatory affairs, Center for Science in the Public Interest

“The budget proposals we’ve seen so far would put every one of us at risk through unprecedented cuts to programs that safeguard the environment, workers, consumers and public health. We can’t let Congress make this worse by attaching ideological riders that will give corporations even more power at the expense of families and communities.”

— Bob Wendelgass, president and CEO, Clean Water Action

“Trump’s proposed budget cuts and the Republican Congress’ poison pill riders will literally kill people and condemn wildlife to extinction. The American people do not want to live in the dystopian future that would result from Trump’s extreme agenda.”

— Brett Hartl, government affairs director, Center for Biological Diversity

“President Trump’s budget is a moral and economic disaster. Americans need a clean, fair budget that invests in workers, job creation and a better economy for all. Instead, this budget diminishes the quality of life for millions of families nationwide in order to give massive tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy.”

— Lee Saunders, president, AFSCME

“Congress needs to get the message. People won’t stand for the deceptive use of funding bills to sneak through unpopular measures, funding cuts and attacks on our rights. These attacks come in many forms, on health care, education and the environment to name just a few. But Republicans on the Hill have proven all too willing to use this tactic against our communications rights as well. They’ve tried to undermine critical FCC rules that promote user privacy and choice, that prevent discrimination on the internet, and that get people connected to broadband.”

— Sandra Fulton, government relations manager, Free Press Action Fund

“Trump has put forward a budget that endangers the people who most need our support. Instead of offering solutions for Asian-American and Pacific Islander women and gender non-conforming people, immigrants, low-income people and other vulnerable communities, Trump’s budget lines the pockets of the wealthiest Americans. Our families need a clean budget that funds programs like the Violence Against Women Act and the Affordable Care Act – not another chance for corporations to use ideology-driven riders and make a profit off our backs.”

— Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum

“Our nation needs a budget that helps working people, not one that attacks them. The Trump budget slashes resources that people need, such as education, health care, food aid and affordable housing. Congress should say no to cuts like these and reject attacks on worker and consumer rights inserted into the budget or other spending bills.”

— Deborah Weinstein, executive director, Coalition on Human Needs

“Wall Street never tires of trying to gut financial regulations through backroom deals. That’s because they know that most Americans – from all places and all parties – think we need to be tougher on Wall Street, not create more loopholes. No member of Congress should support policy riders that will make it easier for predatory lenders to rip people off or threaten another financial crisis. At the very least, the public deserves the chance to weigh in on giveaways to Wall Street.”

— Lisa Donner, executive director, Americans for Financial Reform

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