Preventing a government shutdown looms as the next big political controversy. Hiding behind the big budget bill that must be passed by April 28 will be poison pills that trade away protections for civil liberties and the environment. We can’t let President Donald Trump and his allies in Congress gut environmental laws, defund Planned Parenthood or build a border wall — all of which they’re threatening to do with sneaky budget riders.
We’re calling on Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the rest of California’s representatives in Congress to stand firm against the attacks being waged by Trump and the Republicans on wildlife, women and migrants. Join us — the Center for Biological Diversity, Indivisible San Francisco, and MoveOn — at noon on April 18 outside Feinstein’s San Francisco office at 1 Post St. to urge our representatives to resist.
Depriving future generations of clean air and water just for one year of government funding is a bad deal. But even progressive politicians feel pressure to prevent a government shutdown, and far too often they bow to pressure to accept nasty riders as a part of a budget bill. Republicans forced the federal government to shut down over the Affordable Care Act in 2013 and over their fiscal austerity agenda in 1995 and 1996 — all under Democratic presidents. Now that Republicans control Congress and the White House, the only thing standing in the way of their dangerous agenda is us, the people.
Feinstein and other centrist Democrats need to feel pressure from their constituents to do the right thing. Placing unnecessary riders in this must-pass budget bill is how politicians and corporate interests avoid public scrutiny on controversial items. We want to see a clean budget bill that keeps the federal government functioning, without unnecessary riders from either party.
Last year, Feinstein added a rider to the continuing budget resolution that weakened protections for endangered salmon and delta smelt on behalf of big agricultural interests. Ranchers are pushing riders that roll back protection of wolves, and developers want riders that undermine plans to protect the sage-grouse, lesser prairie chicken and other endangered species. The oil industry can use riders to open up more areas to oil drilling and spilling, such as the Arctic or even our beloved California coastline.
Feinstein and her Democratic colleagues must reject riders that would remove wildlife protections, fund Trump’s border wall or bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds for women’s health services. These are bright-line issues on which there can be no compromise with the right-wing zealots.
We don’t yet know what last-minute riders the budget bill will contain or whether we’re likely to see another federal government shutdown. But we do know that Trump and his allies represent a dire threat to San Francisco’s values and priorities — and those are worth fighting for. Join us on April 18 and send a note to Feinstein and her colleagues, urging her to resist or resign.
San Francisco resident Blake Kopcho is a political organizer with the Center for Biological Diversity.