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Democrats decry 'very, very harmful' riders in Legislative Branch bill

Justin Papp, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON — A House Appropriations subcommittee advanced the fiscal 2025 Legislative Branch spending bill, which would provide $5.5 billion for House and joint items, a 3.5 percent increase from enacted fiscal 2024 levels.

After cuts last year to the Legislative Branch bill — which funds Congress and support agencies and is the smallest of the 12 spending bills passed annually — committee Democrats welcomed the bump in the GOP proposal even as they continued to hammer their Republican colleagues on conservative policy riders included in the text.

The draft bill, which totals $7.1 billion including Senate-only items, advanced Thursday out of subcommittee by voice vote and will now move to the full committee for a markup.

“The bill before us today is not far removed from a bill that I would support. It builds upon investments in the legislative branch that have enabled us to better serve the American people,” House Appropriations Committee ranking member Rosa DeLauro said. “But unfortunately, the majority has included very, very harmful policy riders that create unfair, lopsided rules for certain members of Congress, hurt our ability to attract and retain diverse and talented staff, and unwind important provisions to ensure that we are doing our part to protect the environment.”

DeLauro, D-Conn., and other committee Democrats called out a provision in the bill that would create a loophole for members who are doctors or dentists to be paid in addition to their congressional salary.

Another rider would block diversity, equity and inclusion programs that promote “divisive concepts related to race or sex.” The bill would also protect any person who “speaks, or acts, in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief, or moral conviction, that marriage is, or should be recognized as, a union of one man and one woman.”

 

And it would continue a prohibition on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, recipients working in the legislative branch.

“As ranking member of this committee, the numbers seem reasonable. The bill provides modest increases to support the staffing and other resources needed by Congress to do its work,” said Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., ranking member of the subcommittee. “However, I cannot support this bill as written today because of what I feel are unnecessary, harmful riders.”

Increases for most agencies

In addition to advancing conservative policy priorities, the bill would provide bumps to most legislative branch agencies.

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