Federal Legislation

A Look Ahead to the New 118th Congress

By Jennifer Popik, J.D., Director of Federal Legislation

Editor’s note. This appeared in the November issue of National Right to Life News which was published last week. Republicans have since secured control of the House of Representatives, a huge victory.

At the time of this writing, the nation awaits results in several key House races across the country.  The House appears to be poised to flip to Republican control with around a dozen seats too close to call. The Senate will remain under Democrat control, but whether they control with 50-50 (with Vice President Kamala Harris being a tie-breaking vote) or with 51 seats remains to be seen. Sen. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker will face each other in a December 6th runoff in Georgia.

In the wake of the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, and campaigns that focused heavily on abortion, one thing is clear: the Democratic Party is the party of unlimited abortion.

The current 117th Congress will now enter the “lame duck” session, with several tasks yet to accomplish. Democrats will continue to briefly control both lower chambers.

According to floor remarks from Sen. Charles Schumer, “We still have much to do and many important bills to consider. Members should be prepared for an extremely, underline extremely, busy agenda in the last two months of this Congress.”

Pro-life groups continue to remain vigilant on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and on fiscal 2023 appropriations spending package for items related to government funding of abortion. 

As for the next Congress, President Biden was recently asked by a  reporter “What in the next two years do you intend to do differently to change people’s opinion of the direction of the country, particularly as you contemplate a run for President in 2024?”  He responded, “Nothing, because they’re just finding out what we’re doing.  The more they know about what we’re doing, the more support there is.”

The Biden Administration has been hard at work furiously attempting to short circuit the legislative process and expand abortion.  President Biden and his administration have taken a series of anti-life actions, including executive orders. 

In January 2021, less than a week after taking office, President Biden issued an executive order forcing American taxpayers to fund groups that promote abortion overseas (rescinding the Trump administration’s Global Protect Life or Mexico City policy). In the time since, the administration has been issuing opinions aimed at funding abortion travel in violation of the Hyde Amendment.

In addition, they are promoting abortion in the VA in likely violation of federal law by including an incredibly broad “health” exception.  The administration is also hard at work attempting to try and expand chemical abortion, even in states that protect life.

With an administration so focused on expanding abortion, all eyes will be on Congress for the next two years. 

The Senate has currently been operating with the narrowest of majorities.  With a 50-50 split in the Senate, Democrats lack the votes to overcome the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold. And because of the commitment of Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-Az.) and Joe Manchin (D-Wv.) to vote to maintain the filibuster, the Democrat leadership does not have the votes to abolish the filibuster either completely, nor on a bill-by-bill basis. As a result, radical bills like the Women’s Health Protection Act (abortion without limits until birth) have remained out of reach.  

If Sen. Warnock were to defeat Herschel Walker for the Georgia senate seat, Democrats would control 51-49, placing even sharper pressure to abolish the filibuster.  If the legislative filibuster falls, legislation to expand abortion would certainly be a priority in the Senate.

With a critical Senate race still outstanding, pro-life Americans must remain vigilant to retain the common-sense protections related to government funding of abortion and must seek to push back against the radical Biden abortion agenda.

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