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Democrats Demand Boehner Avert Government Shutdown Threat

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If Boehner passes these bills with Republican votes alone, he sets up a major standoff with Senate Democrats, who will reject the spending bills, leading to another government shutdown standoff. Of course, all year a rump of extremely conservative Republicans, eager to slash significantly more money from federal programs, has thwarted Boehner, and forced him to pass legislation with House Democratic votes. If that dynamic plays out again, it will give Hoyer and his party plenty of leverage, and perhaps force Boehner to strip these riders out of the legislation.

Otherwise, it's a repeat of last spring's shutdown fight, only this time Democrats aren't nearly as willing to get rolled by the GOP.

Read the entire letter below.

Dear Mr. Speaker:

We write with deep concern about the inclusion of policy riders in FY2012 appropriations legislation. As you know, there is longstanding precedent not to use appropriations bills to enact major changes in national policy, and the bills being reported from Appropriations subcommittees this year violate that precedent.

While not all policy riders are objectionable, many of those included this year are not only controversial but blatantly partisan. Included riders would block the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, roll back important clean air and clean water protections, and place new restrictions on women's access to a full range of medical and health services, among others. These appropriations bills appear to any knowledgeable observer as an attempt to push through both chambers an extreme, partisan agenda outside the regular order you so strongly advocated in the Pledge to America, which declares an end to "the practice of packaging unpopular bills with 'must-pass' legislation to circumvent the will of the American people."

As appropriators continue working to meet funding thresholds in the Budget Control Act, it is important that Republicans not risk a government shutdown by playing politics with appropriations bills. Democrats oppose the inclusion of controversial policy riders, which are unlikely to pass the Senate, and we urge you to see that they are removed. The American people expect Congress to take the necessary steps to create jobs for the middle class, spur the growth of our economy, and lower our deficits, and it is our hope that Republicans will work with Democrats on a bipartisan path forward that will meet these expectations as well as the obligations set forth in the Budget Control Act.

Sincerely,

Steny Hoyer (MD-05)
Gary Ackerman (NY-05)
Jason Altmire (PA-04)
Robert Andrews (NJ-01)
Joe Baca (CA-43)
Tammy Baldwin (WI-02)
John Barrow (GA-12)
Karen Bass (CA-33)
Xavier Becerra (CA-31)
Shelley Berkley (NV-01)
Howard Berman (CA-28)
Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
Timothy Bishop (NY-01)
Earl Blumenauer (OR-03)
Madeleine Bordallo (GU-AL)
Leonard Boswell (IA-03)
Robert Brady (PA-01)
Bruce Braley (IA-01)
Corrine Brown (FL-03)
G. K. Butterfield (NC-01)
Lois Capps (CA-23)
Michael Capuano (MA-08)
Dennis Cardoza (CA-18)
Russ Carnahan (MO-03)
John Carney (DE-AL)
Andre Carson (IN-07)
Kathy Castor (FL-11)
Ben Chandler (KY-06)
Donna MC Christensen (VI-AL)
Judy Chu (CA-32)
David Cicilline (RI-01)
Hansen Clarke (MI-13)
Yvette Clarke (NY-11)
William Lacy Clay (MO-01)
Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05)
James Clyburn (SC-06)
Steve Cohen (TN-09)
Gerry Connolly (VA-11)
John Conyers (MI-14)
Jim Cooper (TN-05)
Jim Costa (CA-20)
Joe Courtney (CT-02)
Mark Critz (PA-12)
Joseph Crowley (NY-07)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Elijah Cummings (MD-07)
Danny Davis (IL-07)
Susan Davis (CA-53)
Peter DeFazio (OR-04)
Diana DeGette (CO-01)
Rosa DeLauro (CT-03)
Ted Deutch (FL-19)
John Dingell (MI-15)
Lloyd Doggett (TX-25)
Michael Doyle (PA-14)
Donna Edwards (MD-04)
Keith Ellison (MN-05)
Eliot Engel (NY-17)
Anna Eshoo (CA-14)
Eni Faleomavaega (AS-AL))
Sam Farr (CA-17)
Chaka Fattah (PA-02)
Bob Filner (CA-51)
Barney Frank (MA-04)
Marcia Fudge (OH-11)
John Garamendi (CA-10)
Charles Gonzalez (TX-20)
Gene Green (TX-29)
Al Green (TX-09)
Raul M. Grijalva (AZ-07)
Luis Gutierrez (IL-04)
Janice Hahn (CA-36)
Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01)
Alcee Hastings (FL-23)
Martin Heinrich (NM-01)
Brian Higgins (NY-27)
Jim Himes (CT-04)
Maurice Hinchey (NY-22)
Ruben Hinojosa (TX-15)
Mazie Hirono (HI-02)
Kathy Hochul (NY-26)
Rush Holt (NJ-12)
Michael Honda (CA-15)
Jay Inslee (WA-01)
Steve Israel (NY-02)
Jesse Jackson (IL-02)
Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30)
Hank Johnson (GA-04)
Marcy Kaptur (OH-09)
William Keating (MA-10)
Dale Kildee (MI-05)
Ron Kind (WI-03)
Dennis Kucinich (OH-10)
James Langevin (RI-02)
Rick Larsen (WA-02)
John Larson (CT-01)
Barbara Lee (CA-09)
Sander Levin (MI-12)
John Lewis (GA-05)
Dave Loebsack (IA-02)
Zoe Lofgren (CA-16)
Nita Lowey (NY-18)
Ben-Ray Lujan (NM-03)
Stephen Lynch (MA-09)
Carolyn Maloney (NY-14)
Edward Markey (MA-07)
Jim Matheson (UT-02)
Doris Matsui (CA-05)
Carolyn McCarthy (NY-04)
Betty McCollum (MN-04)
Jim McDermott (WA-07)
James McGovern (MA-03)
Jerry McNerney (CA-11)
Gregory Meeks (NY-06)
Brad Miller (NC-13)
George Miller (CA-07)
Gwen Moore (WI-04)
James Moran (VA-08)
Chris Murphy (CT-05)
Jerrold Nadler (NY-08)
Grace Napolitano (CA-38)
Richard Neal (MA-02)
Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL)
John Olver (MA-01)
Bill Owens (NY-23)
Frank Pallone (NJ-06)
Bill Pascrell (NJ-08)
Ed Pastor (AZ-04)
Donald Payne (NJ-10)
Ed Perlmutter (CO-07)
Gary Peters (MI-09)
Pedro Pierluisi (PR-AL)
Chellie Pingree (ME-01)
Jared Polis (CO-02)
David Price (NC-04)
Mike Quigley (IL-05)
Charles Rangel (NY-15)
Silvestre Reyes (TX-16)
Laura Richardson (CA-37)
Cedric Richmond (LA-02)
Mike Ross (AR-04)
Steven Rothman (NJ-09)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34)
C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02)
Bobby Rush (IL-01)
Timothy Ryan (OH-17)
Gregorio Sablan (MP-AL)
Linda Sanchez (CA-39)
Loretta Sanchez (CA-47)
John Sarbanes (MD-03)
Janice Schakowsky (IL-09)
Adam Schiff (CA-29)
Allyson Schwartz (PA-13)
David Scott (GA-13)
Robert Scott (VA-03)
Jose Serrano (NY-16)
Terri Sewell (AL-07)
Brad Sherman (CA-27)
AlbioSires (NJ-13)
Louise McIntosh Slaughter (NY-28)
Adam Smith (WA-09)
Jackie Speier (CA-12)
Pete Fortney Stark (CA-13)
Betty Sutton (OH-13)
Bennie Thompson (MS-02)
Mike Thompson (CA-01)
John Tierney (MA-06)
Paul Tonko (NY-21)
Edolphus Towns (NY-10)
Niki Tsongas (MA-05)
Chris Van Hollen (MD-08)
Nydia Velazquez (NY-12)
Peter Visclosky (IN-01)
Tim Walz (MN-01)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20)
Maxine Waters (CA-35)
Melvin Watt (NC-12)
Henry Waxman (CA-30)
Peter Welch (VT-AL)
Frederica Wilson (FL-17)
Lynn Woolsey (CA-06)
John Yarmuth (KY-03)

CC: Chairman Hal Rogers, Committee on Appropriations
CC: Ranking Member Norm Dicks, Committee on Appropriations

About The Author

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Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com