Civil and Human Rights Coalition Urges Senate to Oppose ‘Riders’ in Appropriations Bill

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The Leadership Conference – a civil and human rights coalition of more than 200 organizations – is urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D. Nev., to oppose riders in H.R. 1, the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011.

In a letter to Senator Reid, Wade Henderson, president & CEO of The Leadership Conference, and Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president, write that “approved by the House, many of the provisions in the bill appear driven more by political ideology than a sincere interest in deficit reduction.”

In particluar, they raise concerns on:

  • “Gainful Employment” Rule: H.R. 1 blocks the
    Department of Education from issuing or enforcing its proposed “gainful
    employment” rule, eliminating accountability for career colleges that
    educate 10 percent of higher education students, receive approximately
    24 percent of federal grants and loans, and account for 48 percent of
    defaults.

  • District of Columbia Home Rule: Without even a
    single vote on behalf of District of Columbia residents, H.R. 1
    prohibits D.C. from spending its local own taxpayer-raised funds on
    needle exchange programs and abortions for low-income women, and
    reimposes the D.C. private school voucher program. Had such legislation
    been attempted with respect to any other locality in the country, it
    would have sparked incalculable outrage.

  • Repeal of Open Internet Rules: H.R. 1 repeals the
    Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Open Internet rules, including
    those that prevent the private blocking of constitutionally protected
    speech. This causes significant harm, particularly to the constituencies
    represented by our member organizations, and diverts attention from
    other critical media and telecommunications issues that are so vital to
    our nation’s economic and civic life.

  • Health Services for Women and Girls: H.R. 1
    prohibits any federal funding from being made available to Planned
    Parenthood Foundation of America, Inc. (PPFA), or any of its affiliates,
    for any health care services whatsoever for women and girls. This
    ideologically-driven attack on PPFA is unnecessary, as existing law
    already prohibits federal funding from being used to pay for abortions
    and will instead wipe out a range of other vital health care services.

  • Equal Access to Justice Fees: H.R. 1 prohibits any
    federal funds from being distributed under the Equal Access to Justice
    Act (EAJA). This will deprive people – including seniors, veterans,
    people with disabilities, small business owners and farmers – who cannot
    afford a lawyer from being represented against the federal government,
    when the government acts illegally against them.