WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) today were joined by three dozen colleagues in a letter calling on Senate Appropriations Committee leadership to ensure that controversial, anti-environmental policy riders are not attached to FY21 appropriations legislation. With much attention focused on COVID-19 stimulus negotiations, the 39 members underscored the importance of continued diligence in the regular-order annual appropriations process.
The members write: “We are grateful that the FY20 omnibus packages were largely free of policy riders that would have deleterious consequences for public health and the environment. As you know, the inclusion of such unrelated provisions has undermined the Senate’s ability in previous years to pass appropriations bills. To help maintain regular order and to ensure bipartisan support, we urge you to keep the FY21 appropriations bills free of any controversial anti-environmental policy riders.”
“We should remain laser-focused on funding programs that protect and restore clean waters, healthy air and flourishing landscapes, and not allow ourselves to become distracted – and potentially derailed – by efforts to undercut our nation’s bedrock environmental laws,” said Senator Cardin. “Should we want to refine our environmental standards, there is an established, open and transparent process for such a debate. Slipping poison pills into spending bills is never the right way to make environmental policy.”
“Special favors for big polluters don’t belong in important government funding bills,” said Senator Whitehouse. “The American people expect Congress to set aside anti-environmental poison pills and work together in bipartisan fashion.”
“The American people do not want to see the government funding process hijacked to weaken or dismantle our bedrock environmental and conservation laws in the middle of a pandemic,” Senator Udall said. “We should be focused on funding the programs that New Mexicans and Americans rely on for clean air, clean water, public health, and thriving public lands – so that our communities can stay safe and continue to enjoy the great outdoors. As the Ranking Member of the Interior Appropriations subcommittee, I will always push for the removal of legacy anti-environmental riders that do not belong in the appropriations process and fight against the adoption of any new provisions that threaten the environment or public health.”
Joining Senators Cardin, Whitehouse and Udall on the letter to Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Vice Chairman Leahy (D-Vt.) are Senators Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Minn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Gary Peters (D-Ind.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).
The letter can be downloaded here.