The House GOP, despite saying last year that “riders” were an underhanded way of pushing political issues, and saying it wouldn’t use them, is sticking very unpopular anti-environment riders into a highly-wanted, bi-partisan tax cut bill.
Scott Slesinger, legislative director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, issued the following statement in response: “Leaders of both parties say Americans need this tax cut. What we don’t need is more pollution, more health problems and more environmental problems. And that’s exactly what House Republican leaders just gave us, adding unrelated anti-environmental riders to the payroll tax bill. Why is the Republican leadership persisting in making it harder to pass bills everyone claims to want?”
And from Brad Johnson of Think Progress: “Republican leadership in Congress have decided to use must-pass payroll tax cut legislation as a vehicle to push key polluter priorities, despite a veto threat from the White House. House GOP have attached a rider [Section B] to extend a Clean Air Act loophole for the coal industry, daring a White House veto…. Section A is Rep Lee Terry’s (R-NE) Keystone XL poison pill rider for the oil industry.” (The State Department said that if the Keystone XL rider was included the project would flat-out not get the permit it’s looking for.)
And, apparently, this is all even threatening a government shutdown.
“Believe it or not, we may be facing another government shutdown threat as soon as tomorrow. Federal employees are already being notified of the possibility,” MoveOn just wrote in an email to me.
“This time the holdup is the Republican refusal to work on a serious bill extending unemployment benefits and the payroll tax break. Their ridiculous proposal would cut unemployment benefits almost in half instead, and further cut vital programs like Medicare to protect tax cuts for the 1%. They knew it had no chance of passing and packed it full of ‘poison pills’ they knew Democrats would never accept.”
Back to Slesinger, he puts it like this:
“Such political brinksmanship courts a government shutdown. And if there is one, nobody will win–not our economy, not our dedicated government workers who will be sidelined, and certainly not America’s standing in the world.
“It’s time for officials in Washington to act responsibly on behalf of a society that supports them–by protecting our health and well-being instead of catering to powerful special interests and the extremist ideology of the Tea Party.”
And MoveOn is encouraging you to call your Representatives and report your calls here.
House Speaker Republican John Boehner via republicanconference