260 Groups Strongly Oppose Hundreds of Harmful Policy Riders in Appropriations Legislation

Clean Budget Coalition Identifies More Than 750 Poison Pill Policy Riders That Must Be Removed

Nov. 4, 2016

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

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Lawmakers should remove the hundreds of harmful policy riders currently attached to fiscal year 2017 appropriations subcommittee bills, more than 260 organizations said in a letter sent to the president and members of Congress today. The groups are opposing special favors for big business groups and right-wing extremists that have been slipped into must-pass budget legislation, subverting the democratic process and harming American workers, consumers and families.

“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.”

Also today, the Clean Budget Coalition released a fact sheet highlighting a few dozen of the worst provisions in this year’s appropriations legislation, which now includes more than 750 harmful riders. Some of these riders would:

  • Stop the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from requiring publicly traded corporations to disclose their political spending to shareholders;
  • Block the overtime rule that increases pay for millions of hardworking Americans;
  • Allow employers and health insurance companies to refuse to cover any service to which they object – such as contraception – on any grounds whatsoever;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • Block the Clean Water Rule to protect drinking water for one-third of all Americans; and
  • Block a rule that protects more than two million workers from deadly silica dust.

These riders are just a few examples of the kinds of provisions that have no place in government funding legislation, the groups maintain. “Ideological riders are intended to advance the priorities of special interests, and they have become the ‘new earmarks.’ However, in many ways, they are actually far worse than the old district-specific earmarks, because they have vastly greater reach and nationwide consequences for the American people,” the letter reads.

In March, five top-ranking U.S. senators signed a letter (PDF) rejecting poison pill riders. In April, 172 members of the U.S. House of Representatives called on the leadership to pass a clean budget, while the White House signaled its strong disapproval of riders. And in May, U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) called on Congress to remove the harmful policy riders from the process. In September, Congress passed a continuing resolution extending fiscal year 2016 funding through midnight on Dec. 9. If Congress fails to act before then, the government will shut down.

The 260 groups that signed today’s letter are urging members of Congress to finish the appropriations process this year and pass a clean funding package without including hundreds of harmful riders.