GOP Is Demanding Budget Riders That Would Increase Federal Spending

The ongoing budget negotiations between the House Republican leadership and Senate Democrats has broken down, as Republicans continue to insist that their spending bill — H.R. 1 — “serve as a starting point for all negotiations.” House Republicans “have demanded everything: not just some of their cuts but almost all of them, and not just a reduction in spending but a reduction only in the programs they don’t like,” the New York Times notes today. In fact, many are “insisting Democrats also agree to nonbudgetary riders, like ending the financing of Planned Parenthood or health care reform.”

But a closer examination of the at least 81 riders from OMB Watch reveals that many would have the opposite of the GOP’s intended effect and actually increase federal spending. For instance, a CBO analysis of Sec. 4017 of H.R. 1 — which would strip funding for any provisions in the Affordable Care Act — argues that partially defunding the law increases costs “by $3.1 billion in fiscal year 2012 and by smaller amounts in each of the fiscal years 2013 through 2021.” The same may be true for the following riders:

Sec. 4013 — Prohibits funds to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America: Planned parenthood provides services more efficiently and each dollar spent on contraception saves taxpayers multiple dollars down the line. For instance, it’s estimated that pushing contraceptive care patients from Planned Parenthood to other clinics would “cost the government an additional $174 million a year.”

Sec. 1591 — Prohibits funding for needle exchange programs: As an example, the cost to prevent a single HIV infection by needle exchange “has been calculated at $4,000 to $12,000, considerably less than the estimated $190,000 (listed in 1997 dollars) medical costs of treating a person infected with HIV.”


Sec. 4020 — Prohibits funds to take any action to effect or implement the disestablishment, closure or realignment of the US Joint Forces Command: Closing the Joint Forces Command, which “employs more contractors than troops” and which Defense Secretary Gates says is no longer necessary, could save up to $240 million per year.

Sec. 4051 — Prohibits funds for implementing a provision specific to the State of Texas in the “Education Job Fund”: This provision prevents Texas from collecting money from the education jobs bill passed last year unless it maintains its own rate of current education funding. Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) has previously stuck federal education money into his state’s Rainy Day Fund. Blocking the provision amounts to giving Texas more than $800 million with no oversight.

Sec. 4012 — Bans funding for the Department of Education regulations on Gainful Employment: These regulations would restrict federal funding for subprime schools, many of which make 90 percent of their revenue from the federal government, while accounting for nearly half of student loan defaults.

Earlier this month, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) insisted that riders would not be part of a budgetary agreement. “[W]e’re not going to have any riders,” Harkin told Politico. “So, that’s just not going to happen. It won’t be part of the deal.”

— Pat Garofalo and Igor Volsky