By Erik Wasson
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) will be working the floor during votes Wednesday afternoon to get all Democrats to oppose “controversial” riders in the 2012 appropriations bills.
The letter ominously hints of a possible government shutdown over these riders if they are not removed but does offer a hint of compromise by stating that not all riders are objectionable.
Hoyer alerted colleagues Wednesday that he wants their signatures on a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) opposing riders such as those blocking healthcare reform, ending funding for abortion providers or stopping the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases.
“As you know, there is longstanding precedent not to use appropriations bills to enact major changes in national policy, and the bills being reported from Appropriations subcommittees this year violate that precedent,” the letter states.
“As appropriators continue working to meet funding thresholds in the Budget Control Act, it is important that Republicans not risk a government shutdown by playing politics with appropriations bills,” the letter states. "While not all policy riders are objectionable, many of those included this year are not only controversial but blatantly partisan."
The Senate next week is expected to pass three appropriations bills governing agriculture, commerce, justice, transportation and housing and a House-Senate conference on the bills is expected to quickly convene.
The path forward for other more controversial bills governing financial services, the environment, healthcare and labor is less clear given the presence of riders.
Democrats in the House are seen has having a strengthened hand due to a schism in the GOP over whether to push for a lower spending level than that agreed to in the August debt ceiling deal. Some fifty Republicans are expected to oppose any appropriations bills that do not cut more than the level agreed to, so Boehner will have to rely on Democrats to avert a government shutdown after the temporary spending bill runs out Nov. 18.