Oct. 20, 2015

Schumer, Stabenow, Progressive Leaders Tell Congress to Pass a Clean Budget With No Ideological Riders That Fully Funds Middle-Class Priorities

Listen to an audio recording of the telephone press conference.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a telephone press conference today, U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and the leaders of national civil rights, consumer, environmental, labor and women’s organizations called on Congress to pass a clean budget that has no ideological policy riders and fully funds key national security and middle-class programs.

Schumer, Stabenow and representatives from the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the League of Conservation Voters, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Public Citizen and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) sounded the alarm about the harmful effects of arbitrary spending caps and ideological policy riders on middle-class priorities.

Congressional Republicans are threatening to shut down the government to prolong harmful cuts to critical investments. Their plan includes hundreds of ideological riders that would jeopardize policies that restrain Wall Street abuses; guarantee clean air, food and water; ensure safe consumer products and access to vital health care services; keep homes and workplaces safe; prevent consumer rip-offs; and hold big corporations accountable for wrongdoing.

Last month, a coalition of nearly 180 groups – representing tens of millions of Americans – urged President Barack Obama and all 535 members of Congress to oppose any federal appropriations bill that contains inappropriate and ideological policy riders, which are unpopular and controversial with voters in both parties.

Republican lawmakers are trying to avoid a real debate and feeding the perception that Congress isn’t looking out for ordinary Americans. It is time to lift the damaging sequestration spending caps, which harm our economy and cut critical investments in middle-class priorities such as women’s health care, consumer protection, worker safety, public health and the environment, the leaders on the call said.

Statements from Progressive Leaders

“Republicans should work with Democrats to pass a budget that fully funds our national and economic security. We need to produce a budget that creates jobs, grows the economy and keeps us safe, not one that is riddled with ideological riders. Instead of using hostage-taking tactics to push through their extreme and ideological agenda, Republicans should work in a bipartisan way to come to a budget agreement and take the threat of a shutdown off the table.”
Senator Charles Schumer

“Our families deserve a bipartisan budget agreement that supports both America’s economic and national security. Instead, what Republicans have is a budget that is rigged for the wealthy and well-connected. It is time for Republicans to join us in negotiating a bipartisan budget agreement that works for all Americans.”
Senator Debbie Stabenow

“With only days left until the government runs out of money, Congress should be focused on getting an agreement that invests in jobs and economic growth, not scoring political points. Using the threat of a shutdown to roll back protections for working people is simply unacceptable.”
Bill Samuel, director of government affairs, AFL-CIO

“Americans need relief from the endless cycle of budget brinksmanship and sequester caps that continue to hurt our communities. Congress must pass a clean budget that puts working families first and invests in the crumbling roads, bridges, schools and other vital resources that we all rely on.”
Lee Saunders, president, AFSCME

“If members of Congress want to enact a boorish and backwards policy agenda, they should do it in plain sight and not behind the curtain of a budget negotiation. Gutting protections against predatory lenders and unscrupulous for-profit colleges, harming immigrants and undermining women’s health have no place in a budget deal. This backdoor legislating must stop.”
Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

“The American people deserve a budget that fully funds the environmental safeguards that protect public health and preserve the clean air and water our families depend on. Ideological riders that protect the profits of big polluters and block initiatives with widespread public support – like the Clean Water Rule, Clean Power Plan and endangered species protections – have no place in this process. We are calling on Congress to pass a clean budget that is free of all radical riders and fully funds programs that protect our air, water, lands and wildlife.”
Gene Karpinski, president, League of Conservation Voters

“Passing a clean budget – one with no restrictions on women’s reproductive freedom – is an opportunity to keep our government and vital programs running, but an extreme minority of the GOP has been monopolizing Congress’ time and wasting taxpayer dollars to further their anti-choice agenda at every turn. Despite the fact that seven in 10 voters believe in reproductive freedom, regardless of their personal views, the GOP is obsessed with restricting women’s rights, and the budget shouldn’t be another vehicle for them to do so. Instead of adding more obstacles to finalizing the budget, members of Congress need to leave their ideological agenda at the door – Americans can’t afford to wait.”
Sasha Bruce, senior vice president of campaigns and strategy, NARAL Pro-Choice America

“Arbitrary budget caps and reckless policy riders not only damage the environment, they make it ever more likely that there will be another costly government shutdown. Any budget deal must raise the spending caps and must not include secretive riders that gut conservation, environmental, safety and health programs so that agencies like EPA can properly protect the public.”
Marc Boom, associate director of government affairs, Natural Resources Defense Council

“Planned Parenthood is the leading provider of women’s reproductive care across the country, which is why Americans have made it clear time and time again that they don’t want Congress playing politics with their ability access to preventative, often lifesaving services at our health centers. I’m pleased to join our allies in demanding that Congress refocus on caring for its constituents instead of threatening to restrict access to critical support like we provide to millions every year at Planned Parenthood’s health centers.”
Dawn Laguens, vice president, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

“The hundreds of riders included in the government spending bills represent Washington’s deep corruption at its worst. Stealthy, out-of-order maneuvers are being used to force through unpopular legislative provisions, imposing enormous harm on the American public to benefit corporate donors. The examples are legion and include riders that block consumers from winning an effective right to sue banks that rip them off, weaken an important tobacco control measure, stop the FDA from ensuring the safety of generic drugs, block crucial truck safety rules and derail rules that would require large corporations to disclose their political spending.”
Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen

“Riders from the Republican leadership are another example of how they rig the rules in favor of the wealthy few, at the expense of working moms and dads. Congress should do its job and send the president a budget with no riders.”
Peter Colavito, director of government relations, SEIU

Listen to an audio recording of the telephone press conference.

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