The McConnell-Boehner Corporate Congress will be focused on the pope’s visit next week, but that doesn’t mean that lawmakers have stopped planning attacks on the public interest.
As the federal appropriations process continues to unfold and threats of a Republican-led government shutdown continue to escalate, the battle lines are being drawn in the debate over policy riders attached to fiscal year 2016 spending bills. Many of these riders have no connection to government funding and are highly controversial and unpopular. They would jeopardize policies that restrain Wall Street abuses; guarantee clean air, food and water; ensure safe consumer products and continued access to vital health care services; keep homes and workplaces safe; prevent consumer rip-offs; and hold big corporations accountable for wrongdoing.
Last week, a coalition of nearly 180 groups sent a letter (PDF) to all 535 members of Congress and the White House urging them to oppose spending bills full of inappropriate and ideological policy riders. Then, earlier this week, yet another coalition called on President Barack Obama to veto (PDF) any spending bills containing riders that would further weaken our nation’s campaign finance laws.
In the wake of these and other letters, Public Citizen’s petition telling congressional leaders to pass a clean budget without riders has garnered more than 23,000 signatures. Americans don’t want lawmakers to use the federal budget to sneak through backroom corporate deals and rollbacks of key public protections. And as The Hill reported Thursday, Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress are increasingly united in support of a clean budget, free of policy riders.
Will congressional Republicans bow to public pressure and pass a clean budget? Or will they continue to use the federal budget as a pretext to wage ideological warfare on behalf of corporate interests?