WASHINGTON – Nearly two-thirds of the Senate Democratic Caucus, led by Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, are urging Senate appropriators to keep out and remove anti-environmental policy riders in forthcoming legislation to fund the federal government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2016. The senators also are calling on President Obama to veto any omnibus spending package that includes policy riders that threaten environmental and public health by weakening or eliminating laws protecting air, land, water and wildlife. With the added support of Democrats in leadership positions, the senators are in a position to sustain a presidential veto, if needed.
“At stake is access to clean water and clean air across our country,” said Senator Cardin. “After enduring previous government shutdowns and the crippling effects of sequestration, the American public is justifiably tired of divisive ideology and loyalty to special interests that threatens public health and the environment. We thought the two-year budget deal passed last month signaled a potential end to such gridlock. Anti-environmental riders that cater to special interests or reflect individual member’s distaste for certain agencies should have no place in the FY16 spending package. Mother Nature and the public health face enough external threats; Congress should not be one of them.”
In the letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Vice Chairwoman Mikulski (D-Md.), the senators wrote, “Unfortunately, many of the appropriations bills approved this year have included deeply divisive policy riders that have no place in must pass legislation or in complicating the bipartisan cooperation necessary to pass such legislation.”
In a complementary letter to President Barack Obama, the senators urged him to “publicly oppose any riders that would gut America’s foundational environmental laws.”
Led by Senator Cardin, both letters also were signed by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Angus S. King, Jr. (I-Maine), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.) and Gary C. Peters (D-Mich.).