North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield currently serves as the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield currently serves as the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. Credit: Shevry Lassiter

Members of the House Democratic Caucus joined several public interest groups and progressive organizations Thursday to call on House leadership to reject divisive policy riders in the fiscal 2016 Omnibus and to bring a clean spending bill to the floor.

More than 160 Members of Congress signed a letter to House leadership, calling on them to prevent another unnecessary government shutdown by rejecting poison-pill provisions and partisan brinksmanship.

This followed Democrats like Sen. Robert Casey, who called Republicans reckless and misguided.

“I can’t see into people’s hearts, what motivates them,” the Pennsylvania senator said. “All I can say is that it’s a bad idea to even get close to not paying our bills and I hope that the folks on the other side of the aisle will see that.”

Casey and economist Jared Bernstein said that failing to come to an agreement on the $18.1 trillion borrowing limit could have a great effect on small business owners, soldiers and veterans who rely on government services.

Interest rates could increase and mortgage costs could explode, Casey said, noting that in late 2011, the 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage spiked by as much as 70 basis points, increasing the borrower’s monthly payments by about $100 per month.

A default could also cost undergraduate students at least $1,000 and graduate students as much as $5,000, Casey said.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky it’s time for Republicans to “stop the games and pass a clean funding bill without any riders whatsoever.”

“This means no partisan policy provisions that attack women’s reproductive rights, undermine the Affordable Care Act, are anti-labor, are anti-consumer, weaken environmental provisions, or any such toxic provisions that have nothing to do with funding our government, said Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat.

Rep. G. K. Butterfield, North Carolina Democrat and Congressional Black Caucus chairman, said it’s critical that a clean spending bill be presented on the floor if another government shutdown is to be prevented.

“These policy riders prioritize special interests and politics over the needs of hardworking American families, and they would cut much needed funding to transportation, education, law enforcement, and to our veterans. We have an obligation to build on the progress of the Bipartisan Budget Act and move America forward,” Butterfield said.

Republicans’ threat to shut down the government by pursuing an extreme agenda through radical policy provisions only puts the most vulnerable at risk, said Rep. Ruben Gallego.

“A government shutdown would hurt countless disabled veterans, disadvantaged children, small businesses, and working families across the country,” said Gallego, an Arizona Democrat. “It’s time for this kind of partisan brinksmanship to end. There are only eight legislative days remaining until our government shuts down. House Leadership should act immediately to introduce and pass a clean funding bill with no riders.”

Democratic Reps. Patrick E. Murphy of Florida and Doris Matsui of California, Dana Singiser, vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Sasha Bruce, vice president of Campaigns and Strategy for NARAL Pro-Choice America, all said a shutdown must be avoided.

“Passing a clean budget — one with no restrictions on women’s reproductive freedom — is an opportunity to keep our government and vital programs running, but an extreme minority of the GOP has been monopolizing Congress’ time and wasting taxpayer dollars to further their anti-choice agenda at every turn,” Bruce said. “Despite the fact that seven in 10 voters believe in reproductive freedom, regardless of their personal views, the GOP is obsessed with restricting women’s rights, and the budget shouldn’t be another vehicle for them to do so. Instead of adding more obstacles to finalizing the budget, members of Congress need to leave their ideological agenda at the door – Americans can’t afford to wait.”

Lisa Donner, president of Americans for Financial Reform; Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen; Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters; and Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME, also signed the letter.

“Americans need relief from the endless cycle of budget brinksmanship and sequester caps that continue to hurt our communities,” Saunders said. “Congress must pass a clean budget that puts working families first and invests in the crumbling roads, bridges, schools and other vital resources that we all rely on.”

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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