Pelosi, House Dems pass spending bill funding abortion; White House vows veto

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., gestures as she talks optimistically about Democrats' chances in down-ticket races in 2016, during her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 7, 2016.
U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., gestures as she talks optimistically about Democrats' chances in down-ticket races in 2016, during her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 7, 2016. | (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted Thursday night to pass government spending legislation that would reinstate federal funding to abortion organizations worldwide.

The new House passed two bills Thursday night — one is a continuing resolution to keep the government funded until at least Feb. 8 and the other to fund six federal agencies through the end of the fiscal year 2019.

In a 241–190 vote, the House passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019.

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As the government shutdown stems around President Donald Trump’s request for border security funding, the bill falls short of the $5 billion in border funding the president desired but does seek to provide millions in federal funding for businesses that either perform or promote abortions overseas.

The bill essentially repeals Trump’s expanded Mexico City Policy — also known as the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy — which he enacted as one of his first acts as president in January 2017.

Under the Trump policy, NGOs and charities that provide assistance to underserved populations overseas would have to agree that they will not “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning” in order to receive funding from the State Department. Similar policies were put in place by every Republican president since Ronald Reagan.

Abortion industry giants like International Planned Parenthood and pro-choice activists have claimed that the regulation is a “gag-rule.” Meanwhile, pro-life supporters of the president have praised him for taking steps to fulfill a campaign promise to enact pro-life policies.

The State Department announced last year that the policy only impacted four groups out of over 733 organizations that had received funding, saying that “nearly all prime partners that have had the opportunity to accept the policy have done so.”

In addition, the House spending bill will also restore funding to the United Nations Population Fund, which has been accused by the Trump administration of being complicit in the China’s acts of “coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization.” The Trump administration moved in April 2017 to defund the UNPF.

Both Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the White House have vowed to oppose the bill. In a statement issued Thursday, the White House promised a veto if the bill reaches Trump’s desk in its current form.

“It includes $700 million more than requested for the United Nations, including restoring funding for the United Nations Population Fund,” the statement reads. “The bill would also undermine the President’s Mexico City Policy (Presidential Memorandum of Jan. 23, 2017), which prohibits the funding of foreign nongovernmental organizations that promote or perform abortions.”

McConnell called the House votes “political theater” and “not productive lawmaking.” He stressed that the vote was “not a serious attempt” at trying to end the shutdown.

“Will these new Democrats come to Washington ready to roll up their sleeves, work together, and make laws?” McConnell asked on the Senate floor Thursday. “Or are they going to waste time on partisan show votes that will do nothing to move the country forward? That’s the question: Political performance art or responsible governance? We’ll get an early signal in the next few days.”

The bill was criticized by pro-life organizations that strongly oppose abortion.

“While many lawmakers are focused on getting the government funded and running, [Speaker of the House] Nancy Pelosi did not waste a moment trying to force American taxpayers to prop up the abortion industry,” Marjory Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life grassroots organization Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement. “Her first act as speaker leaves no doubt about House Democrats’ senseless priorities for the next two years.”

On his blog, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, an evangelical leader who regularly engages with the Trump administration, assured that Trump and McConnell will “continue to use their power to advance the mainstream, pro-family agenda that elected them in the first place.”

Referring to polling sponsored by pro-life organizations, Dannenfelser stressed that the majority of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion.

“President Trump honored their will by taking immediate action to stop U.S. exportation of abortion around the world on taxpayers’ dime,” Dannenfelser said. “We thank our pro-life allies, especially Leader McCarthy and Representative Granger, for their efforts to remove the pro-abortion poison pill in this spending bill. We are confident that as the fight over funding the government continues, the pro-life Senate majority and the president will not stand for any attempt to undermine this administration’s pro-life policies.”

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