Policy Riders in the Sky
If there’s anyone busier than Santa, it’s Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.). As Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, it’s up to him to make sure the government’s stockings get stuffed for next year. That means another working weekend for he and the budget negotiators, who’ve been plodding through hundreds of pages of spending legislation before its release next week.
At $1.1 trillion, the bundle of appropriations bills is longer than your average Christmas list, and significantly more expensive. Thanks to former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Democrats got the bump in spending they wanted earlier this fall. It’s deciding what to do with it that gets tricky. As members slog through the eleven zeros worth of taxpayer dollars, Rogers is under the gun to give members their first crack at the omnibus on Monday. “It’s all complicated. Every day is complicated,” Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said.
And most of the complication comes in — not with the bill text itself, but the dozens of policy riders awaiting their fate. As Fox News’s Chad Pergram puts it, these are the political barnacles that sometimes latch on to massive spending bills. In this case, those riders could include some important pro-life, refugee, tax, and gun measures that could make the process a lot more explosive than the time left will allow.
“There’s a lot of unresolved issues,” Rogers admitted. “Some of them are being handled by leadership and then a whole host of others will be considered at the committee level. So we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We are making progress.” Already Democrats are pitching a fit over the possibility of adding ANDA, the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act, to the package.
While liberals are busy pretending taxpayer-funded abortion doesn’t exist in health care, one state has been quite proud to admit it: California. The country’s biggest state also took the biggest step in passing off abortion costs on locals last year under a rule that orders health insurance companies to cover it — regardless of their objections or their policy holders.’
Several members of FRC’s pastors network have led the charge against the mandate in California, which affects everyone from religious institutions to churches and universities. And while the Golden State’s policy obviously violates federal law, the Obama administration has no interest in enforcing that law — let alone abiding by it. That’s why conservatives are doing everything they can to attach language to the omnibus that would give Californians the ability to beat back the attack on their First Amendment rights.
Now, as the calendar winds down, conservatives are intent on including ANDA to make sure the ban on taxpayer-funded abortion is permanent in every state — and to add a private right of action so it could be enforced. Yesterday, in a letter to Capitol Hill, FRC asked — not only for the inclusion of ANDA but also for language that would let states opt out of funding abortion groups like Planned Parenthood. After all the concessions on spending levels, it shouldn’t take a Christmas miracle to win these common sense protections for taxpayers.
It’s time for bold leadership. Republicans have already conceded to Democrats more than enough through the budget cap hike. The GOP shouldn’t give an inch more and instead stand firm on these routine policy riders.
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