President Trump today revealed his proposed budget for fiscal year 2019, once again proposing massive cuts to environmental programs. Remarkably, this proposal is being released when Congress still has not come to an agreement on a final budget for fiscal year 2018. This budget was supposed to be finalized by the end of October 2017, but instead, Congress has been passing stop-gap funding in the form of continuing resolutions — at this point, Congress has used this method four times!
On Friday, February 9, Congress finally agreed on a budget deal which sets the limits for federal spending over the next two years. Congress now has until March 23 to decide how the money will be apportioned — which gets into the highly contested appropriations process. One of the reasons this process is so difficult is that Members of Congress put “riders” into appropriations bills. A legislative rider is a provision slipped into a bill that often has little to do with the content of the rest of the bill. Because passing a funding bill for the federal government is so important, some Members of Congress use funding bill riders as a way to sneak provisions into law that, if they were presented on their own, would not stand a chance of passing.
There are a number of riders awaiting consideration by Congress that take aim at clean water and other environmental protections. These include provisions that would:
Some of our partner groups are organizing a call-in day on Tuesday, February 13, to urge Members of Congress to utilize a transparent, well-reasoned, and timely budget process and avoid sneaky, back-door legislative riders. Please consider calling your Members of Congress this Tuesday or any time up until March 23!
Here is a sample call script to get you started:
“My name is [YOUR NAME] and I am a resident of [ZIP CODE] in [STATE]. I am calling because I understand that Congress is starting to make progress in finalizing the federal budget for fiscal year 2018, and I am worried about riders in the appropriations bills. I am opposed to any riders that attack public and environmental protections, especially those that hurt the public’s right to clean water. Many riders that would weaken environmental and public health protections were added to appropriations bills because Members of Congress know that, if they were presented on their own, the public would be opposed and they would never become law. Rather than trying to pass provisions through disingenuous appropriations riders, Congress should focus on a transparent, well-reasoned budget that fully funds agencies. I am asking you to oppose all riders that seek to weaken environmental protections and advocate for full funding for a healthy and robust Environmental Protection Agency. Thank you.”