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Congress Shouldn't Sacrifice Americans' Basic Needs to Score Political Points with the Budget

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News & Analysis

With the 116th Congress now well underway, People For the American Way and allied organizations are once again urging members to abandon a perennial GOP favorite—poison pill policy riders:

Dear Member of Congress,

The Clean Budget Coalition, an alliance of labor, scientific, consumer, research, good government, faith, civil rights, community, health, environmental, and public interest groups, writes you to urge FY20 appropriations bills that are free from poison pill policy riders that harm the public.

No appropriations titles, package of bills, or continuing resolutions (should that be deemed the appropriate path to continue funding the government) should move forward if they contain poison pill policy riders that go against the public interest.

Unfortunately, such poison pill riders have existed as favors to corporate and special interests in previous appropriations cycles, and therefore a set of “legacy poison pills” must be removed from the FY20 appropriations bills.  We ask that you take that stance as Congress processes the FY20 appropriations bills—keeping out new poison pills that harm the public and removing those that have become embedded.

Poison pill riders are unpopular and dangerous, and the public opposes the abuse of the budget process to roll back public protections. The budget should be funding the things that Americans care about, not undoing essential safeguards. The American people support policies to:

  • Ensure safe and healthy food and products;
  • Restrain Wall Street abuses;
  • Secure our air, land, water and wildlife;
  • Safeguard fair and safe workplaces;
  • Guard against consumer rip-offs and corporate wrongdoing;
  • Defend our campaign finance and election systems;
  • Promote economic fairness in banking, housing and business;
  • Provide access to justice and fair housing;
  • Protect human and civil rights, including the rights of immigrants; and
  • Guarantee continued access to vital health care services including comprehensive reproductive health care, among other things.

The public does not support slipping damaging poison pills into must-pass appropriations bills that would undo any of these protections as a means to win approval.

We urge Members of Congress to fully fund important programs and to reject any flawed bills that fail to remove poison pill policy riders that would undo essential public safeguards.

We plan to reissue this letter as developments warrant.