Corporate Congress Next Week: Shutdown Over Riders?

Business for DemocracyBudget

Next Friday, Dec. 11, funding for the U.S. government expires and we will face a government shutdown unless Congress and the White House can agree to a spending package for fiscal year 2016. One of the key sticking points: ideological riders that have no place in a budget bill but that corporate-backed lawmakers want to attach to it anyway.

We’re talking about policies that deny women access to the health care provider of their choice; block safeguards that protect our homes, pocketbooks and workplaces; lower standards that keep our food, air and water safe; and more. Public Citizen and a coalition of nearly 200 groups are working to block the riders. Next week, members of the coalition are expected to deliver to Congress tens of thousands of petitions signed by ordinary citizens who want a clean spending bill with no riders.

Late Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan sent House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi a proposed omnibus government spending package that included at least 30 dangerous policy riders. Congressional Democrats rejected the package, calling it a “tea party wish list,” and proposed a counteroffer.

If leaders in both parties are unable to reach an agreement by the end of next week, Congress could still pass a continuing resolution that would extend government funding through Dec. 18 – giving them until the following Friday to reach a deal.

Who needs worker protections anyway?

House lawmakers take aim next week on workers – specifically on workplace protections. Just consider the over-the-top title of this hearing, to be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s Subcommittee on Workforce Protections: “How the Administration’s Regulatory Onslaught is Affecting Workers and Job Creators.”

Expect lawmakers to attack everything from overtime pay rules, to protections against silica exposure, to a proposal that retirement advisers be required to put their clients’ best interests before their own profits. Never mind that the benefits of regulations greatly exceed their costs.

In fact, OSHA is severely underfunded and understaffed, and the agency can’t even begin to enforce the rules it has, many of which are inadequate.