Harmful riders must remain outside the annual expenditure program
Hardly a year goes by without a high-stakes year-end battle over the federal budget, and this trick often risks a disastrous government shutdown. The current focus on adopting the Build Back Better plan means that we may have even less time to ensure this year’s omnibus spending program is completed.
In addition to funding levels, this year’s credit fight will feature a battle against a series of poison pill policy riders known as “legacy riders” that have been featured in appropriation bills for years. previous ones. These measures attack women’s health, our environment, children, workers and consumers, and fuel political corruption.
Importantly, Democrats in the US Senate and House have made a firm commitment not to include these nefarious measures in federal spending legislation this year because they never made it into it.
Over the past several decades, but with increasing frequency in recent years, Conservative lawmakers have quietly inserted a series of toxic measures into obscure provisions of long, hard-to-read appropriation bills to disguise their presence.
These special favors for big business and ideological extremists are unpopular and very controversial, which is why they could not become law by regular order. Unfortunately, once added, they often stick around in federal spending bills year after year – becoming legacy endorsements – until lawmakers decide to fight back in budget negotiations and try to eliminate them.
The good news is that this is exactly what the Democratic House owners have been doing over the summer. And the Senate majority followed suit in the spending bills they deployed in October, removing dozens of legacy poison pills.
It’s a welcome change to see lawmakers in both houses of Congress remove legacy endorsements. Much is at stake.
A long-standing poison pill that came out was the infamous Hyde Amendment – a discriminatory ban on abortion care coverage for those receiving health insurance through Medicaid. The Appropriators also removed a variety of Hyde-type runners targeting the District of Columbia, the Peace Corps, and Global Health Aid programs. They also endorsed the Weldon Amendment, which allows hospitals, insurance companies and healthcare professionals to refuse abortion care, coverage and referrals.
The owners also removed a series of anti-environmental endorsements, including one blocking the addition of the Greater Sage-Grouse to the list of threatened species. Two others have put in place clean air exemptions for factory farms. And several have allowed more climate pollution.
An endorsement prevents the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from ending a rule that would require listed companies to disclose their political expenses to shareholders. Secret political spending is a huge problem the public wants addressed, and shareholders deserve to understand how the companies they invest in spend on politics.
Another rider prevents the executive from requiring government contractors to disclose their political spending. The public has a right to know whether companies are awarded federal government contracts because of campaign donations or for their own merits.
And a third rider prevents the U.S. Treasury Department and IRS from setting standards for 501 (c) (4) political activity that clearly define what nonprofits can and cannot do during elections. elections.
Without clear guidelines, nonprofits willing to break the rules – especially dark money groups – get a free pass. Meanwhile, the vast majority of nonprofits that wish to follow our country’s laws remain in the dark about what is and is not, leaving them at the mercy of potentially subjective and arbitrary enforcement. .
None of these poison pills have ever been part of federal spending bills, which should be about funding our government – not squeezing through harmful policies that could never become law on their own merits. .
Annual spending bills are not exempt from the counterproductive 60-vote Senate obstruction requirement. It is therefore crucial that lawmakers remain firm in their commitment to keep these nefarious measures out of the final spending program.
The public deserves a 2022 budget that not only meets the needs of the present, but fully funds important public services and invests in a better future. Congress and the White House must complete the appropriation process with clean spending bills that eliminate all poison pills.
Women’s health, our environment, our campaign finance system and more should not be used as a bargaining chip or sacrificed to pay for essential public services and keep our government open.
Lisa Gilbert is Executive Vice President of Public Citizen and Co-Chair of the Coalition for a Clean Budget.