The G.O.P.'s Worst Budget Riders
The G.O.P.'s Worst Budget Riders published by Evanvinh
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Posted on 2016-03-17
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The short-term spending bill that is financing federal government operations will expire on Dec. 11, and unless Congress and President Obama agree on another extension or a final bill, there will be a shutdown.
In September, far-right Republicans in the Freedom Caucus were willing to shut down the government rather than allow federal spending on Planned Parenthood. That was averted only when the House speaker, John Boehner, announced he would resign, thus escaping pressure from that caucus. His successor, Paul Ryan, will now have to decide whether he wants to avoid a year-end shutdown fight or give in to right-wing demands.
Meanwhile, hundreds of potential ''riders'' are on the table. These are provisions that could be attached to a final bill that would do great harm to important policies and have nothing to do with spending. Many, like the attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, are ideologically driven. Many serve narrow interests (usually those of specific campaign donors). The House Agriculture Committee, for example, supports a rider that would exempt existing electronic cigarettes, including those with flavored liquid nicotine, from regulation by the Food and Drug Administration. It also wants to prevent the F.D.A. from improving generic-drug safety labeling.
Many anti-environmental riders have been put forward by lawmakers in committees with jurisdiction over energy, water, air quality, public lands and endangered species. Arguably the most serious threat is one that would invalidate a new rule from the Environmental Protection Agency that clarifies which waters are protected under federal law from unrestricted dredging, filling and development.
Consumer protections are another target of several riders, many of which would weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. One rider would delay, if not derail, the bureau's progress in restoring the right of aggrieved customers to join together in class-action lawsuits against corporations rather than being forced into arbitration. One would prevent the Department of Labor from finalizing or enforcing a rule to ensure that financial advisers put a client's interests first when giving advice on retirement accounts. Others would roll back protections against reckless mortgage lending and other risky bank practices that were put in place after the financial crisis.
The White House has said it opposes many of these riders, and has threatened previously to veto attempts to weaken the clean-water improvements. But in 2011, the administration caved on some environmental riders. And last year, it acquiesced in rolling back a major provision from the Dodd-Frank reform law that was intended to control bank speculation.
Republicans in the House and Senate appear divided, with the House's far-right caucus eager for a shutdown if it doesn't get its way and the Senate leadership desperate to avoid one for fear it would hurt its party's electoral prospects in 2016. That is an opening for Mr. Obama to do the right thing with harmful riders: Just say no.
DRAWING (DRAWING BY SAM ISLAND)
Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2015 The New York Times Company.
"The G.O.P.'s Worst Budget Riders." New York Times 2 Dec. 2015: A30(L). Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.
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