Kevin McCarthy
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks during a news conference on September 29, 2022 in Washington, D.C.
(Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

'Remove All of Them': House GOP Adds Dozens More Poison Pills to Spending Bill

Many of the riders would harm the EPA's "ability to do its critical work," said one former agency lawyer.

Nearly 260 advocacy groups on Monday warned that House Republicans have not halted their efforts to push through as many restrictions on government spending as possible in the federal budget bill, adding dozens more "poison pill" riders to the legislation ahead of the upcoming August recess.

The Clean Budget Coalition, which includes watchdog groups such as Public Citizen and the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards (CSS), reported that 74 new poison pills have been added to spending bills since advocates first sounded the alarm about the practice just one week ago.

At least 291 poison pill riders, which ban certain types of spending by the federal government, have now been introduced in budgetary legislation, which is expected to be the subject of the latest spending fight this fall—just months after Republicans slashed nutritional assistance and education spending in the debt ceiling deal.

"All of these measures must be removed," said CSS on Monday.

The new poison pill riders include ones that would roll back decades of progress in securing rights for marginalized people in the U.S., including LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, those targeted by right-wing extremist or white supremacist groups, and people most impacted by air pollution.

The same-sex marriage rider would allow opponents of marriage equality to receive federal funding even if they discriminate against same-sex couples, while the pride flag rider would forbid LGBTQ+ pride flags from being flown over federal buildings.

The H-2A visas rider would block the Labor Department from enforcing a rule that strengthens protections and wage calculations for foreign workers—potentially taking away an estimated $38 million wage increase from farmworkers.

The poison pills include a number of restrictions on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and numerous environmental justice programs, such as one blocking the EPA from implementing a new rule to reduce mercury and other toxic air pollution, one that prevents the agency from enforcing new carbon pollution limits for coal and gas power plants, and one blocking it from imposing new proposed rules to reduce tailpipe emissions.

The riders will "damage the agency's ability to do its critical work," wrote former EPA attorney David Coursen at The Hill on Monday, adding that House Republicans are "hellbent on bulldozing any gains" in environmental justice with its "doomsday proposal."

"Coalition members are calling on lawmakers to remove all of them," the Clean Budget Coalition said of the riders, "and oppose passage of any legislation that includes these unpopular and controversial special favors for big corporations and ideological extremists."

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