‘Omnibus Map’ Delivered to Hill Offices Spotlights Dangerous Budget Riders
Clean Budget Coalition Reminds Congress: An Omnibus Is No Place for Riders
Nov. 16, 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. – “Riders are advised to travel by way of normal legislative vehicles” and “should stay off this omnibus,” warns a brochure resembling a bus map (pictured below), delivered today to the offices all 535 members of Congress. The Clean Budget Coalition distributed the “omnibus map” as part of its campaign to oppose hundreds of harmful policy riders that may be attached to federal budget legislation – whether we see an omnibus package bill, a series of “minibus” bills or an unpalatable continuing resolution.
“Congress must finish the appropriations process this year and pass a clean budget free from ideological riders,” the map reads, echoing the call of more than 260 groups who sent a letter to Congress two weeks ago with the same message.
The map warns of “riders” trying to “board the omnibus” at dangerous stops along its route, such as Big Bank Boulevard, Polluters Place, Rip-Off Row, Secrecy Circle, Discrimination Drive, Fatality Alley, Denial Triangle and War on Women Way. The trifold also describes several dozen of the more than 750 harmful riders that have been slipped into the appropriations process by congressional Republicans. Among them, riders would:
- Stop the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from finalizing rules 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 bright line 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 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 manufacturers of generics the ability to update their labels when new health risks are discovered;
- Block the Clean Water Rule designed 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.
At the beginning of the year, Republicans in both chambers of Congress promised to move appropriations legislation through regular order. Had they kept their word, each chamber would have passed 12 separate appropriations bills by September. But instead of remaining focused on funding levels, Republicans have slow-walked the bills, treating this must-pass legislation as an opportunity to ram through amendments that grant special favors to big business and ideological extremists.
In March, five leading 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. 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.
The Clean Budget Coalition urges President Barack Obama to take a strong leadership role in the fight against riders. Obama should not surrender on his last watch to those who would endanger the American workers, consumers and families that he has long championed, and he should work to ensure that the FY17 budget is finished, rather than allowing a shorter term continuing resolution.