The House is poised to pass spending legislation on Wednesday that includes the Hyde Amendment, the decades-old ban on federal abortion funding that recently created an uproar in the Democratic race for the White House.
Weeks after former Vice President Joe Biden flip-flopped from supporter to opponent of the amendment under heavy pressure from his party’s liberal base, the Democratic House will vote in favor of a package that retains Hyde — which progressives say disproportionately hurts poor and minority women.
The reason for including Hyde is simple: The broader spending package cannot pass the GOP-controlled Senate and would not be signed into law by President Trump if it did not include language banning the use of federal funds for abortion.
Democrats supporting the funding measure note it also includes provisions, backed by abortion rights groups, that would roll back some of the Trump administration’s anti-abortion policies, making it a little easier for the lawmakers to hold their noses and vote for the bill.
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That means Democrats likely won’t pay a political price for backing legislation that includes Hyde. Yet it is a bit of a bitter pill, reminding the party of the hurdles it faces in getting rid of the long-held restriction.
“We are standing up for women’s health care by pushing back on the Trump-Pence administration’s dangerous, dangerous attacks on family planning services, including abortion and contraception,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), chairwoman of the Appropriations subcommittee on labor and health and human services.
Abortion rights groups, which have opposed Hyde for decades, argue that the overall funding bill is a win, given the circumstances. Neither Planned Parenthood nor NARAL Pro-Choice America are opposing the legislation.
“We are on the verge of a win,” said Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen. “With this one bill, we can protect the health and lives of billions of people.”
The spending bill would roll back the so-called Mexico City policy, which prevents federal funds from supporting foreign nongovernmental organizations that provide or promote abortions. Trump reinstituted the policy immediately after taking office.
The measure also aims to stop the administration from implementing changes to a federal family planning grant program that would essentially prevent federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood and other clinics that provide abortions.
That funding, known as Title X, is awarded to health clinics that provide reproductive health services to low-income women and men and aren’t used for abortions, as stipulated by the Hyde Amendment.
Trump’s changes to Title X, which have been temporarily halted by a federal judge, would block providers from referring women for abortions.
House Democratic leaders last week rejected a progressive-led effort to amend the spending bill to omit the Hyde Amendment and ensure abortion access in government funding programs.
Progressive leaders of the effort have not indicated they will vote against the spending bill.
“I think the vast majority of Democrats believe that we should not have the Hyde Amendment, that we need to repeal it,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters last week.
She indicated that progressives would instead push for a vote on Rep. Barbara Lee’s (D-Calif.) Each Woman Act, which would require public health insurance programs, including Medicaid and Medicare, to cover abortions.
“We know there’s work to be done,” Jayapal said. “We need to build more support for it beyond just the appropriations process.”
The Hyde Amendment has become entrenched in spending bills for decades, with lawmakers and presidents in both parties regularly approving annual appropriations bills with the restrictive language.
The amendment was first attached to the health and human services spending bill in 1976, banning Medicaid and other programs from covering abortions.
The movement to end the ban has seen new momentum in recent years. The Democratic National Committee formally opposed it for the first time in its 2016 platform, and every 2020 Democrat running for president has denounced Hyde.
But presidential candidates in the House, like Rep. Seth Moulton (Mass.) and Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio), are planning to vote for the labor-health and human services funding bill, part of spending minibus, with the Hyde language.
“Seth opposes the Hyde Amendment,” said Tim Biba, a spokesman for Moulton, in a statement. “However, he intends to vote for the Labor-HHS Funding Bill because he does not believe opposing the funding plan and potentially shutting down the government will lead to a repeal of the Hyde Amendment. He is actively working to repeal the Hyde Amendment as a cosponsor of the EACH Woman Act, a stand-alone bill.”
Ryan will also vote in favor of the bill.
“He knows that these spending bills aren’t perfect, but with the Senate and White House controlled by Republicans, he believes these are the best deals we are going to get to keep the government funded and move the country forward,” spokesman Cody Sibulo told The Hill.
Date: June 26, 2019
Source: The Hill