White House to GOP: Drop Ideological Riders

The White House has again signaled that it can't support a budget agreement that includes "ideological riders" insisted on by Republican legislators, riders like those that would limit net neutrality rules strongly championed by that White House.

House and Senate Democrats are widely expected to pass a short-term Continuing Resolution to keep the government open past the Dec. 11 deadline and push the battle over a final bill, including over the riders, until mid-week next week.

Among the riders at issue are ones that would grandfather joint sales agreements that would otherwise be treated as attributable ownership interests in a March 2014 FCC decision, block funding of new network neutrality rule implementation until legal challenges were resolved and not allowing those new net neutrality rules to result in rate regulation.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday (Dec. 10) during his daily briefing that a budget agreement acceptable to the Administration would be one without such riders, which he called, in some cases, earmarks for the Republicans' biggest supporters.

Earnest said Republicans will have to decide whether they are willing to shut down the government over the riders.

Earnest said the White House is not opposed to extraneous items that have bipartisan support, but instead partisan or controversial items that would not otherwise make it into law.

A source following the riders' progress said that, at least in the case of the network neutrality rules, those "remain one of the negotiated items in the crosshairs."

Earnest said the President would not support taking weeks to come up with an omnibus bill—responding to House Speaker Paul Ryan's statement that he wanted to take the time to get it right.

The JSA-grandfathering rider is less of a poison pill than the net neutrality rider, given that some Democrats also have issues with the JSA decision.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.