Democrat Members of the U.S. House of Representatives passed two spending bills that remove decades-old bipartisan agreements preventing the use of federal funds for abortion on demand in the U.S. and around the world. The appropriations for Biden’s budgets were debated in the House Appropriations Committee where Republican attempts to add long-standing bans on use of tax dollars for abortion were defeated. Both appropriations passed the House on a party line vote with no Republicans voting in support of either spending bill.
Prior to the 219 to 208 vote in the House on H.R. 4502, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2022, Republicans, including Congressional Pro-Life Caucus Co-chair Chris Smith and Tom Cole, Ranking Member on the Appropriations Committee, appeared before the Rules Committee. They requested that the life-affirming abortion bans be given the opportunity for a debate and vote by the entire House but their requests were denied. A total of 14 pro-life amendments that are enacted every year in budget bills were blocked by nearly all Democrats on the committee.
Most notably, the Hyde Amendment with prevents the use of tax dollars for abortion on demand through the Medicaid program was eliminated from the budget
for the first time since it first was enacted in 1976. The bipartisan policy has been credited with saving 2.4 million lives.
Also missing was the Weldon Amendment protecting conscience rights and prohibiting federal funding of state and local governments that discriminate against health-care workers or providers who refuse to participate in, pay for or cover abortions.
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. reminded Members in remarks on the House floor that while a senator, President Biden supported the Hyde amendment and wrote a letter to constituents saying that “it would protect both the woman and her unborn child” and that “those of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them.”
On the international front, the Biden budget for the Department of State, H.R. 4373: Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2022, was passed by House Democrats by a vote of 217 to 212 with no Republican voting in favor of the measure. For the first time in over 50 years a State Department and foreign assistance spending bill that did not include the Helms Amendment blocking U.S. funding for abortions, first enacted in 1973.
Republican Rep. Hal Rogers, Ranking Member of the Appropriations subcommittee on foreign relations, spoke against this exclusion from the $62.24 billion spending bill stating, “Of greatest concern is the removal of the most important condition in any state, foreign operations bill that no funds can be used to pay for abortion. The removal of that language is unprecedented.”
As he attempted to have three amendments on the Mexico City Policy, Helms amendment and UNFPA funding made in order by the Rules Committee, Rep. Chris Smith implored, “Rather than funding the death of a baby, I believe we must increase access to maternal and prenatal care and ensure access to safe blood and better nutrition. We must also expand essential obstetrical services, including skilled birth attendants, while improving transportation to emergency care facilities to significantly reduce maternal mortality and morbidity, including obstetric fistula.”
The bill provides $760 million for family planning and reproductive health services, an increase of $185 million from 2020 and $70 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), an increase of $37.5 million from the previous year.
The unprecedented funding for abortion stands in stark contrast to polls that show most Americans oppose taxpayer funding for abortions. A recent Marist poll found that 77 percent of Americans oppose using taxpayer dollars to promote abortion overseas, and 58 percent oppose using taxpayer money to fund abortions in the United States.
In remarks to the House, Rep. Chris Smith spoke of the cruelty of abortion:
“Taxpayers should not be forced to pay for child dismemberment— including severing arms and legs and decapitation with sharp knives—or deadly poisons or drugs like RU–486 which starves the baby to death. Children alive but not yet born who are killed by abortion at 20 weeks or later experience excruciating suffering and physical pain. And until rendered unconscious or dead by these hideous procedures, the baby feels the pain of every cut. Where is the justice and empathy and compassion for unborn babies?”
During her remarks on passage of the two budgets, Speaker Pelosi, a Catholic, commented that the funding “honors our values” and House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro, a Catholic, stated that she believed passage of the budget bills “faithfully fulfill the moral test of government”.
Disagreement on the morality of taxpayer funding for abortion is evident in the statement from Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, who opposed the removal of the Hyde Amendment:
“The House has voted in a way that is completely out of step with the will of the American people who overwhelmingly oppose taxpayer-funded abortion. The Hyde Amendment has saved at least 2.4 million lives since its enactment. Without it, millions of poor women in desperate circumstances will make the irrevocable decision to take the government up on its offer to end the life of their child.
“Funding the destruction of innocent unborn human lives, and forcing people to kill in violation of their consciences, are grave abuses of human rights. We call on the Senate to redress this evil in H.R. 4502, and for Congress to ultimately pass appropriations bills that fully support and protect human dignity, and the most vulnerable among us.”
The bills next move to the Senate where Appropriations bills are still subject to a 60-vote threshold. It is expected that Republicans will oppose the spending bills as currently written without the long-standing Hyde and Helms amendments.