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House Appropriators Can Act Now to Remove Anti-Democracy Riders Targeted in H.R. 1

March 26, 2019

House Appropriators Can Act Now to Remove Anti-Democracy Riders Targeted in H.R. 1

28 Groups Ask House Appropriators to Remove Three Harmful Campaign Finance Riders Added in the Last Budget Cycle

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Appropriators in the U.S. House of Representatives should remove three harmful anti-democracy riders that were added to last year’s budget, Public Citizen and 27 other groups said in a letter sent today.

All three riders are expressly overturned by H.R. 1, which will be introduced in the U.S. Senate this week after being passed by the House earlier this month. Regardless of the fate of H.R. 1, House appropriators can act now and remove these measures from spending legislation this year. The three anti-democracy riders highlighted in the letter would:

  • Prevent the IRS and the U.S. Treasury Department from setting standards for 501(c)(4) political activity that clearly define what nonprofits can and cannot do in elections. Without clear guidance, nonprofits that want to spend in elections without disclosing their donors can abuse the system with impunity;
  • Stop the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from requiring publicly traded companies to disclose their political spending. The absence of such a requirement deprives investors and the public of critical information on corporate political activity; and
  • Block a rule requiring government contractors to disclose their political spending. The public has the right to know whether companies are being awarded contracts because of campaign donations.

“Today, our democracy is out of balance, which makes it harder to solve the big problems facing our country and our communities,” the letter reads. “Our current system allows powerful corporate and wealthy interests to regularly defy the foundational principles of fairness, equity, ethics, accountability and respect for the rule of law – resulting in a government that is more responsive and accountable to wealthy political donors than to the public. To restore balance to our democracy, we need to use all of the tools at our disposal. That is why we are writing to draw your attention to three poison pill policy riders sneaked into appropriations legislation that stymie this progress.”

On Wednesday, Bart Naylor, financial policy advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, will testify about these poison pill riders at a hearing held by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.

“The House should delete harmful riders approved in past years that stifle needed rulemaking on political spending disclosure and establish bright lines governing what counts as political activity by nonprofits,” Naylor will tell the subcommittee. “In addition, the SEC needs to finish congressionally mandated rules on executive compensation reform.”