Monday, March 21, 2011

Sierra Club Signs Coalition Letter to Senators Opposing "Policy Earmarks"

March 16, 2011

Dear Senator:

We urge you to oppose policy riders in the upcoming bill to extend funding for the remainder of the fiscal year.  In addition to large cuts to discretionary spending that would seriously impair the ability of regulatory agencies to function, H.R. 1, the House passed spending bill, contains at least 80 provisions that would radically alter existing policies of the federal government.  These provisions would harm millions of Americans by undermining critical public protections, and you should reject them in any continuing resolution.

H.R. 1 is an ideologically driven wish list of “policy earmarks” for powerful special interests, not a coherent set of policy priorities.  For example, there is a provision specific to implementing the “Education Job Fund” in the state of Texas, one specific to a mine in West Virginia, and another specific to Florida water quality standards.  Instead of putting together coherent strategies on water quality or mining, the House bill, with its inclusion of policy earmarks like these, opted to focus on satisfying the narrow concerns of interest groups rather than the nation as a whole.

The House has held no hearings on its budget bill, and numerous provisions were added on the House floor with limited debate, often late at night.  Committee members have not been given a chance to defend the dozens of programs that would be affected by these 80-plus policy riders.  Additionally, the public has been frozen out of the process, leaving no opportunity for outside voices to be heard. 

Even though the policy riders have major implications for clean air, health care, consumer protections, and much more, there is limited transparency and no meaningful public participation into these decisions.  In essence, it is a backdoor means for unraveling years of public protections.

We strongly urge you to oppose policy riders on the bill to fund government for the rest of the fiscal year.

Sincerely,
AFL-CIO
Air Alliance Houston
American Association for Justice
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform (CCAR)
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Food Safety
Consumers Union
Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias
Endangered Species Coalition
Free Press
Global Community Monitor
Government Accountability Project
International Center for Technology Assessment
International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW)
National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC)
National Farmers Union
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
National Women's Health Network
National Women's Law Center
Natural Resources Defense Council
OMB Watch
Public Citizen
Rural Advancement Foundation International -- USA (RAFI-USA)
Safe Tables Our Priority (S.T.O.P.)
Sierra Club
Union of Concerned Scientists
United Poultry Growers
Valley Watch, Inc.
Women's Information Network