WASHINGTON (November 15, 2011) — To the surprise of many, an attempt by Senate Democrat leaders to fast-track a funding bill laden with pro-abortion provisions today ran into an immovable procedural wall — erected by a group of pro-life senators with the strong encouragement of National Right to Life.
Pro-abortion Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) attempted to move to the Senate floor a so-called “mini-bus” — a measure combining three different appropriations bills. This combo bill contained seven different provisions objected to by National Right to Life.
Among other offensive provisions were sections that would have removed an existing ban on government funding of abortion in the District of Columbia, removed a longstanding ban on coverage of abortion in federal employees’ health plans, and earmarked $40 million for the United Nations Population Fund.
In addition, the bill contained a provision authored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) that would have prevented any future president from curbing funding of pro-abortion organizations overseas. The last three Republican presidents have denied overseas family-planning funds to private organizations that perform or promote abortion (the so-called “Mexico City Policy”).
Senate rules do not allow appropriations bills to be combined in the way that Reid attempted, except by “unanimous consent,” meaning that each senator had the right to object and prevent the combination bill from advancing. Such “unanimous consent” has been achieved in the past, for other multi-bills that did not contain pro-abortion provisions. But today, pro-life Senator David Vitter (R-La.) took to the Senate floor to deny Reid the “unanimous consent” that was required. Vitter was joined by other pro-life senators, including Jim DeMint (R-SC), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah).
“National Right to Life commends Senators DeMint, Vitter, Paul, Lee, and their allies for courageously derailing the Abortion Express Train,” said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson.
Because of the successful strategy pursued by NRLC, specific amendments dealing with the various abortion-related issues — which had been promoted in alerts disseminated by some organizations in recent days — will not be needed this week. All such pro-life amendments would face tough odds in the current Senate.
Johnson warned, however, that there are likely to be further attempts by the Senate Democratic leadership to attach pro-abortion provisions to various funding bills for the rest of the year. “We’ll be keeping a hawk-like gaze on all of these appropriations bills,” Johnson said.