More Than 100 Groups Insist on No Riders in Spending Legislation

Clean Budget Coalition Opposes Provisions That Threaten Public Protections

February 8, 2016

Contact: Lisa Gilbert, lgilbert@citizen.org, (202) 454-5188
David Rosen, drosen@citizen.org, (202) 588-7742

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The day before the White House is expected to release its fiscal year 2017 budget proposal, a coalition of more than 100 groups sent a letter calling on President Barack Obama and all 535 members of Congress to oppose any federal appropriations bill that contains ideological policy riders.

Policy riders are extraneous provisions added to federal spending legislation that have little or nothing to do with funding the government. Most of them are little more than sweetheart deals for big corporations and special favors for ideological extremists – and could not become law on their own merits – so lawmakers sneak them into must-pass spending bills to avoid a real debate. Policy riders are deeply controversial with voters in both parties, harmful to working families and small businesses, and have no place in the appropriations process.

“Ideological riders are measures that the public opposes, and that the President would likely veto as standalone legislation,” the letter reads. “The American people support policies to restrain Wall Street abuses and ensure safe and healthy food and products, to protect our air, land, water and wildlife, to ensure safe and fair workplaces, to prevent consumer rip-offs and corporate wrongdoing, to create fair rules of the road for our campaign finance system, to provide access to justice, and to ensure continued access to vital health care services.” Riders threaten to block or repeal these protections.

Last year, hundreds of riders were proposed for inclusion in the omnibus spending legislation, and in this year’s budget process, some members of Congress already have started to insist on them. Even though the congressional leadership appears determined to return to regular order by passing 12 smaller spending bills instead of a last-minute omnibus, the threat of riders remains.

“Regular order means no special-interest riders,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, who helped organize the Clean Budget Coalition. “Congress should pass clean spending legislation with no riders that undermine or roll back key public safeguards, and the administration should oppose any appropriations bills that contain them.”

Read the letter.

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