Left-leaning groups demand 'clean' government funding bills

Left-leaning groups demand 'clean' government funding bills

A coalition of 173 mostly left-leaning groups on Wednesday issued a letter to Congress demanding that government funding bills for fiscal 2018 be passed “cleanly,” without any controversial policy riders.

“Contentious poison pill riders are intended to advance the priorities of special interest donors and supporters and should not be included in funding bills,” the letter read. 

“President Trump has proposed a budget rigged for billionaires and big business featuring deep cuts that endanger our health and safety, our workplaces and wallets, as well as, our environment and our economy,” it continued.

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In May, congressional Republicans and Democrats hammered out a spending deal for 2017 stripped of “poison pill” riders to which Democrats objected, such as defunding Planned Parenthood and paying for President Trump’s proposed wall along the southern border.

A similar deal could be necessary this year.

But Republicans are under pressure to keep their campaign promises, which they said they would pursue in the 2018 budget.

“The budget should put the public good first and not be a wish list for lobbyists and corporate interests. Any rider that hurts working Americans should not be on the budget bill,” said Celine McNicholas, labor counsel at the Economic Policy Institute Policy Center, one of the signatories. 

The letter, also signed by organizations such as the AFL-CIO, the Center for Progressive Reform, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Sierra Club, went on to demand that the sequestration-level budget caps that are due to go into effect in October be broken.

“This budget diminishes the quality of life for millions of families nationwide in order to give massive tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy,” said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Thus far, the House Budget Committee has postponed the introduction and passage of its budget resolution as Republicans argue over defense spending, deep nondefense cuts and potentially $200 billion worth of cuts to mandatory spending, mostly in the realm of Medicaid and various welfare programs.

Congress must pass some kind of funding bill by the end of September to avoid a government shutdown.