Forty-One Senators Push to Keep Harmful Environmental Riders Out of Appropriations Bills

The senators warn that anti-environment policy riders inserted by House Republicans could jam up Senate’s ability to pass bipartisan spending bills

Washington, DC – Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and 38 additional senators today urged Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Vice-Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) to reject controversial anti-environment policy provisions that House Republicans have slipped into several of their FY2024 appropriations bills.  These policy “riders” typically do not affect federal spending, and instead aim to make changes to laws that would not withstand the scrutiny of regular-order congressional debate and would not advance without being attached to must-pass measures like appropriations bills.

“House Republicans have loaded up their partisan spending bills with anti-environment poison pills to please their fossil fuel donors.  These giveaways to Big Oil have no business in any bipartisan spending deal,” said Whitehouse.

“We cannot allow spending bills to be hijacked with dangerous policies that will harm the environment and public health,” said Cardin.  “We should remain focused on funding programs that protect and restore clean waters, healthy air and flourishing landscapes, and not allow ourselves to become distracted by extreme efforts to avoid debate on efforts that would undercut our nation’s bedrock environmental laws.”

“Harmful anti-environment policy riders are poison pills that will sabotage funding the government.  They need to be kept out,” said Merkley.

In several of their partisan spending bills, House Republicans included riders aimed at stripping away a range of important environmental protections, including bedrock safeguards for our air, water, and federal lands.  These controversial and dangerous anti-environment riders circumvent regular order in Congress and threaten the shutdown of the federal government. 

Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Laphonza Butler (D-CA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Durbin (D-IL), John Fetterman (D-PA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Edward Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) cosigned the letter.

Full text of the senators’ letter is below.  A PDF copy of the letter is available here.

November 16, 2023

Dear Chair Murray and Vice Chair Collins,

Thank you for your ongoing work on Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) appropriations bills. Each year the appropriations process presents opportunities for bipartisan support and funding for our most vital environmental programs. To help maintain regular order and ensure continued bipartisan support, we urge you to continue keeping the FY24 appropriations bills free of any controversial, anti-environmental policy riders.

In several House FY24 appropriation bills, there have been harmful policy riders reported that are unacceptable.

The inclusion of unrelated provisions has undermined the Senate’s ability in previous years to pass funding measures. We must stay vigilant and keep senseless, harmful, environmental policy riders out of FY24 appropriations bills. We commend you for keeping these types of policy riders out of the Senate FY24 appropriations bills and request that any controversial riders offered by our colleagues on the House side not be included in final funding bills.