The Democrat-led U.S. House of Representatives approved spending bills that did not include prohibitions on the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions, drawing criticism from pro-life activists.
The House voted Thursday to advance an appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education and related agencies ahead of the fiscal year 2022, scheduled to begin on Oct. 1.
This year, the appropriation did not include the Hyde Amendment and other long-standing, bipartisan measures to prevent federal tax dollars from funding abortions.
Thursday’s vote comes two weeks after the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies voted to advance the spending bill. Democrats on the influential House Appropriations Committee blocked an effort by Republicans to restore the Hyde Amendment in the bill.
The House voted 219-208 to advance the spending bill Thursday, with Democrats voting in favor of the measure and Republicans voting against it.
Shortly before the vote took place, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, filed a motion to recommit to prevent the bill from passing without including the Hyde Amendment. The effort failed in a party-line vote of 217-208.
National Right to Life President Carol Tobias, president of the pro-life group National Right to Life, praised Cole "for his effort to prevent passage of the appropriations bill without Hyde Amendment language." She thanked “pro-life members of Congress for their dedication and diligence in working to protect the Hyde Amendment and prevent taxpayer funding of abortions.”
“After 45 years of bipartisan support, Democrats in the House want to destroy a measure designed to save human lives," Tobias said in a statement.
The pro-life grassroots lobbying organization Susan B. Anthony List warned that the “minibus” spending package approved by House Democrats Thursday also failed to include other pro-life provisions, including the Dornan Amendment, which “stops federal taxpayer funding of abortion on demand in Washington, D.C."
Other pro-life measures stripped from the package are the Hyde-Weldon Amendment, which “protects health care workers and institutions from government coercion to be complicit in abortions;" and the Smith Amendment, which “stops funding for abortion on demand in Federal Employee Health Benefits.”
“Biden-Pelosi Democrats doubled down on abortion extremism today, scrapping decades of bipartisan consensus that #HydeSavesLives,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Nearly 2.5 million of our fellow Americans are living thanks to the original Hyde Amendment alone – with the largest impact felt in poor and historically marginalized communities.”
In a statement to The Christian Post, Brooke Paz, the government affairs coordinator at Students for Life Action, stated that “the passage of H.R. 4502 without pro-life protections that have had bi-partisan support for decades is a clear example of why elections matter."
"Democrats in Congress today are more extreme on abortion than ever before and millions of preborn babies will die because of it," Paz stressed.
The pro-abortion advocacy group All Above All had a different take on the passage of a spending bill without the Hyde Amendment, contending that the long-standing measure harmed the poor.
In a tweet Thursday, the group alleged that Hyde forced “1 in 4 low-income women to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term” and led to “a likelihood of increased poverty from being denied an abortion,” with “people of color being harmed the most.”
Another pro-abortion group, the Center for Reproductive Rights, cheered that “For the first time in decades, a federal spending package has passed the House without the Hyde Amendment.”
The organization maintained that “When folks can afford the abortion care they need, communities thrive. A Hyde-free spending bill is a step in making sure this happens.”
In a previous statement, Susan B. Anthony List noted that House Democrats voted to eliminate pro-life provisions from the State and Foreign Operations budget for the upcoming fiscal year on Wednesday.
The House approved the spending bill 217-212.
The pro-life provisions excluded from the State and Foreign Operations budget include the Helms Amendment, which “stops international aid from funding abortion on demand as a method of ‘family planning;’” and the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, which “stops U.S. dollars from funding organizations that support or participate in coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”
Additionally, the budget more than doubles funds for the United Nations Population Fund, which pro-lifers say partners with some of the worst human rights abuses globally, like China and North Korea. Critics fear the bill massively increases the "funding stream that underwrites the international abortion industry," namely organizations like Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International.
The bill also provides “funding [for] abortion on demand in the Peace Corps.”
Ahead of the 2020 election and the start of the 117th Congress, House Democrats repeatedly vowed to gut the Hyde Amendment.
In December, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., the chair of the House Appropriations Committee and the subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, argued that “the time has come” to abandon the Hyde Amendment.
DeLauro announced that “while the Labor/HHS/Education bill has carried the Hyde Amendment every year since 1976, this is the last year.”
The U.S. Senate must approve the spending bills omitting the long-standing provisions before they can become law. The Democrats have a narrow 50-50 majority in the upper chamber, meaning that spending bills without the long-standing pro-life provisions would have to secure all 50 Senate Democrats' support to pass.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., has already expressed support for the Hyde Amendment.
Manchin co-authored a bipartisan letter calling on the Senate Appropriations Committee to include the Hyde Amendment in the funding bill for the upcoming fiscal year. The senator’s opposition to eliminating the Hyde Amendment could prevent the House-approved spending bill from passing the Senate, assuming that all Republicans oppose it as well.
Should the Senate and House fail to agree on the contents of the spending bills for the upcoming fiscal year, a government shutdown will commence unless both chambers decide to agree to a continuing resolution, which will fund most of the government at existing levels for a short period of time. Both chambers of Congress and the White House have until midnight on Oct. 1 to come to an agreement.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: email@example.com