Schumer: GOP riders to defund EPA, Planned Parenthood are deal breakers

A top Democrat said Tuesday evening that some of the most controversial "riders" attached to a House spending bill would be a deal breaker in the Senate.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said riders to defund Planned Parenthood and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wouldn't fly in the upper chamber.

ADVERTISEMENT
"The bottom line is that whether it's Planned Parenthood or EPA, we will not accept those riders," Schumer said on MSNBC. "And any thought to the contrary is wrong."

"We believe that they don't belong in a budget bill," he added. "There can be debate on these issues. We believe they would be defeated in the Senate."

House Republicans included a number of riders — measures attached to spending legislation that pursue a broader policy goal, often having to do with social issues — in their legislation funding the government the rest of this year.

The most controversial were those to cut off federal funding to the EPA and Planned Parenthood because it provides abortion services.

The provisions are seen as bargaining chips in the negotiation between the GOP-run House and Democratic-led Senate over a spending bill to fund government the rest of the fiscal year. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) signaled earlier Tuesday that while he wasn't thrilled with the riders, he'd be willing to consider them.

"We're happy to look at the policy riders," he said. "There aren't many of them that excite me, but we're willing to look at them."

But Schumer said that some of the issues were non-negotiable.

"There was some talk today about some riders being accepted by Leader Reid," said the New York Democrat. "But let's be clear, those would be the kinds of noncontroversial riders we haven't heard about."

Democrats' refusal to accept the Planned Parenthood and EPA riders would go a long way toward Schumer's goal of driving a wedge between Republican leaders in the House and the more insurgent class of Tea Party freshmen.

Schumer has talked a good game about GOP leaders' need to divorce themselves from the conservative members of their conference in budget negotiations. Refusing to accept those riders could turn up the heat on House leaders because a number of conservative members have threatened to vote against a final spending package if it excludes, for instance, the measure defunding Planned Parenthood.