Target: Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader
Goal: Stop Congress from adding last-minute harmful provisions to necessary bills
A deal to prevent a completely avoidable governmental shutdown passed through Congress recently but it is no cause for celebration–several harmful items that have nothing to do with avoiding the shutdown were snuck in at the last minute. These items are nothing more than theft and corporate pandering. The practice of sneaking handouts and budget cuts into bills must be abolished immediately if our democracy is to work. We must show that we value government assistance programs more than we value military hardware.
Hidden additions to necessary bills are called riders and every person in Congress can attempt to add them if they so desire. These riders categorically have nothing to do with the bill in question and are often added because they help to either get legislation passed or to get legislation killed. This process is not always undertaken to expedite or slow the passage of legislation, however. Often, riders are added to bills on behalf of corporations with powerful lobbyists or to push some partisan ideology. This is where democracy breaks down; because lobbyists are expensive, riders get added to bills by people with the money to pay for them. Rich corporate owners pay lobbyists to ensure that riders get added to bills that make them even richer.
This most current bill, for example, had provisions to build two new fighter jets that no branch of the military ordered and to cut funding from the Women Infants and Children program (WIC) that provides nutritional food choices for those without means to afford them. Even more frightening was the addition that removed some restrictions placed on banks following the 2008 financial crisis. The process of adding riders must be stopped immediately and Congress must be held accountable for the damages this process incurs. Please sign below to demand an end to riders.
Dear Senate Majority Leader Reid,
The recent budget bill that put off another government shutdown is full of riders that are harmful to ordinary citizens. I demand the process of adding riders to bills be put to an end. There is no need for any more fighter jets, but there is need to feed starving children and educate the poor. For no reason should corporations, especially banks, be allowed to write legislation for this government.
These riders damage the very fabric of our fragile democracy. For example, when the government passes legislation against something that 70% of the citizenry voted for, the system ceases to be democratic. In this case, recreational marijuana will not be legal in Washington, D.C. despite the fact that its citizens voted strongly in its favor. For these reasons, I once again demand that you end the practice of adding riders to bills and try to preserve some of the little dignity that Congress has left.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Lawrence Jackson via Wikimedia Commons