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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and President Barack Obama hate policy riders. They have no place in spending bills, the top Democrats have said during the latest budget debate.

Unless, of course, they’re Democratic policy riders.

We’re happy to debate these, but on a legislative vehicle, not a spending vehicle,” Reid said Thursday.

Republicans say that’s a different tune than he was singing in 2009, when he, President Barack Obama and then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi loaded such riders onto a government-funding bill similar to the one now being negotiated. A senior Democratic aide said the two aren’t comparable, and Republican Speaker John Boehner, who is now trying to preserve riders, has blasted them in the past, too.

Among the legislative items Democrats attached to that spending measure were:

* A long-desired abortion-rights provision making birth-control pills and devices cheaper for Planned Parenthood and other family-planning clinics who provide them to students on college campuses and poor women. Originally, an effort had been made to include that rider on an emergency supplemental spending bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and was removed amid political pressure.

* The repeal of a school-voucher program in the District of Columbia that is close to the heart of the current speaker, John Boehner.

* A relaxation of restrictions on travel to Cuba.

* Reid’s pet project: Delaying the development of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste storage site through spending cuts and legislative language; and

* A provision designed to facilitate the implementation of taxpayer-funded health benefits for the same-sex partners of federal employees.

“Policy restrictions are a routine part of spending bills. Senate Democratic Leaders – and President Obama – have supported hundreds, if not thousands of them, including on CRs,” Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, said in reference to a “continuing resolution” — the vehicle political leaders are using as they try to negotiate a deal to keep the government running through the end of September.

But Democrats insist that not all riders are created equal.

“There is a difference between including riders on a bill when they are supported by a majority of the Senate and just need a vehicle and including riders on a bill because a minority is trying to ram through something that would not have support on its own,” the senior Democratic aide countered. “Here, keeping the government funded should be enough.”

In 2008, Boehner objected to non-military provisions in a Democratic-written bill providing war funding.

“Knowing the troop-funding bill is popular and certain to pass, politicians in Congress tried to attach tax increases and unrelated spending increases to it - in effect, exploiting our troops by forcing them to carry unpopular political provisions they knew could not pass Congress on their own,” Boehner said at the time, according to States News Service. “Attaching these ‘riders’ is the sort of stunt that has made Americans extremely cynical about Washington. That anti-war forces in the U.S. House would employ this scheme right before Memorial Day was irresponsible at best and depraved at worst.”

While Republicans are a minority in the Senate, they hold power in the House. It’s not clear which riders would have majority support in the Senate because there has been no opportunity for the upper chamber to vote on them.

The overwhelming majority of Senate Democrats have voted for spending bills carrying a ban on subsidizing abortion in the District of Columbia that is also now included in a stopgap bill the House passed on Thursday. Forty-nine current Democratic senators have voted for spending bills with that provision in them. The language didn’t prevent Obama from voting for appropriations when he was in the Senate, nor did it stop him from signing at least one bill into law.

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