Basically Everyone Opposes Budget Riders

A broad coalition of organizations representing millions of Americans is urging the U.S. Senate and the White House to oppose any spending bill that contains policy riders. The riders, which are not budgetary per se, are being pushed by congressional Republicans, but recent news stories indicate that President Obama and Senate Democrats may be willing to play ball during negotiations on a spending deal that will fund the U.S. government for the remainder of FY 2011.

More than 150 groups – everyone from the AFL-CIO to the YMCA, are throwing their weight behind the effort to pass a spending bill free of harmful riders. In a letter, the coalition sent this message:

The House of Representatives' Continuing Resolution (H.R. 1), which was voted on one month ago, included vast cuts and erected obstructions to critical public health, worker safety, consumer, civil rights, and environmental programs. We urge you to adopt a strict policy of rejecting all such provisions in subsequent 2011 spending bills, rather than negotiating one harmful rider against another. 

The riders were offered in the dark of night and bypassed the usual committee and floor processes that allow for a democratic and accountable debate. This stealth attack allowed lawmakers to attack a host of programs and protections that Americans support, including health care reform, Wall Street regulation, greenhouse gas limits, consumer product safety, and many others. (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today that neither he nor the White House are willing to consider a spending bill that limits EPA’s authority to protect public health.)

Senate and House leaders are expected to spend the weekend negotiating a spending package that will be palatable to both parties and both chambers. (The Tea Party continues to be the wild card.) Republican leaders have insisted that some of their riders make it into the final bill. Congress must pass a spending bill by April 8 or risk a government shutdown – an event both sides have said they want to avoid.

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