By Dave Andrusko
Elsewhere today, we reposted an important letter signed by the leaders of 18 pro-life groups urging President Trump “to ensure that an amendment led by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), which would enrich global abortion providers, is not part of any final appropriations package.” (Emphasis added.)
Let’s take a deep dive and see what this is about and why NRLC had previously written a letter to the Senate expressing its strong opposition. This sounds a little technical, but stay with me.
The amendment referred to in the letter to the President deals with annual government appropriations that the Senate has been working to finalize. Both the Senate and House have yet to strike a final deal.
Way back in July, Congressional leaders and the administration agreed to a Bipartisan Budget Agreement for Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021 and included direction as to what may or may not be included in appropriations bills. The agreement stated that
Congressional leaders and the administration agree that, relative to the FY 2019 regular appropriations Acts, there will be no poison pills, additional new riders, additional CHIMPS, or other changes in policy or conventions that allow for higher spending levels, or any non-appropriations measures unless agreed to on a bipartisan basis by the four leaders with the approval of the President.
But, so much for agreements. The Senate Fiscal Year 2020 State, Foreign Operations appropriations bill now includes an amendment offered by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) which was adopted in committee as part of a manager’s package–and without a roll call vote.
What is it about the amendment that “would enrich global abortion providers”?
According to NRLC’s analysis, the Shaheen amendment would increase funding by $57.55 million for domestic organizations that promote abortions abroad. While the policy “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance” (formerly known as the “Mexico City Policy”) bans taxpayer funding for international groups that provide or promote abortion, domestic groups that openly and actively promote abortions overseas will benefit from this funding increase.
The amendment also changes the status quo with regard to funding associated with abortion and also includes statutory language establishing reporting mechanisms for an Obama-era nondiscrimination grant clause.
A press release from Sen. Shaheen explaining her amendment notes that this language “instructs USAID [the United States Agency for International Development ] to create a first ever mechanism to examine the charges of discrimination in response to reports that patients have been denied services. The investigation would ensure biases by the administration regarding reproductive health do not interfere or alter the delivery of services on the ground.”
The Shaheen amendment will create a chilling effect for USAID to partner with pro-life, pro-family, or faith-based contractors.
No wonder NRLC wrote
Unless the Shaheen amendment is removed, National Right to Life urges you to oppose the appropriations package, and reserves the right to include a roll call on this measure in our scorecard of key pro-life votes of the 116th Congress.