At Pro-Life Convention, Republican Members of Congress Affirm Dedication to Protecting Hyde

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Posted: Jun 27, 2021 2:45 PM
At Pro-Life Convention, Republican Members of Congress Affirm Dedication to Protecting Hyde

Source: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool

The National Right to Life Committee just wrapped up their annual convention, made particularly special this year in celebration of their 50th anniversary. Townhall was able to attend and interview Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-MN) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).

A major focus currently is protecting the Hyde Amendment, which protects taxpayers from having to fund elective abortions. Hyde has purposefully been left out of the $6 trillion budget proposal from the Biden administration.

It has passed every year, under every administration as a budget rider since 1976, with bipartisan support.

Gone are the days of that bipartisan support, however. Despite Sen. Cotton being "old enough to remember when Joe Biden was a strong proponent of the Hyde Amendment," candidate Biden renounced his support in 2019 during the Democratic primary. 

That being said, we discussed how there are plenty of floor speeches from Biden  exposing that support, so much so, Sen. Cotton noted, "that we probably couldn't use them all in debate."

This support is evidenced by letters from 1977 and 1994, in which then Sen. Biden bragged to constituents that he consistently supported Hyde, in its strictest forms.  

It's not only Biden, though. Sen. Cotton is "quite confident" there are senior Democrats who previously supported Hyde, even if they support abortion. 

In all of this, Cotton pointed out this is "a measure of just how extreme the Democrats have become on abortion," in that "now it's almost a litmus test in their party to oppose the Hyde Amendment." 

Sen. Cotton helpfully laid out what it means for Hyde to be "the status quo," as it's "repeatedly adopted," even with each spending bill lasting one year. Thus, "when a party tries to drop it," as Democrats are attempting to do this time with Hyde, "it's considered changing the current law and current practice." 

When it comes to "controversial issues," once it's "crunch time" to get spending bills passed, "the standard practiced is to keep all old policy riders, and not add new policy riders," he explained. This is another reason why keeping Hyde "is a policy we should aim for," according to the senator. 

The discussion also turned to the messaging on Hyde, especially to those who may not be pro-life or may not consider abortion to be their main issue. Sen. Cotton acknowledged "obviously the abortion question has sharply divided our country for many decades, even before Roe v. Wade, and it's an issue on which people have deep moral convictions." 

Getting rid of Hyde, then, which the senator finds "unwise," would "further inflame public opinion by trying to use tax dollars to support a practice that half the country, at least, finds barbaric."

Because of the divisiveness of the abortion issue and the ramifications of eliminating Hyde, the senator offered that "that's very different than spending tax dollars on some wasteful pork barrel project or some study that's gonna prove what anybody with common sense knows."

When asked if Hyde is the biggest pro-life issue right now, Sen. Cotton affirmed it is "from a legislative standpoint, the single biggest issue that will be in front of the Congress and actually have a chance to change." 

The senator opined that "obviously the Democrats have a lot of worrisome when it comes to abortion, but the Hyde Amendment is what you might call the 25-meter target for them."

In addition to Republican unity, there are such small Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate, that Cotton is hopeful and confident Hyde will prevail. 

The issue is crucial in the House as well. Rep. Fischbach explained to Townhall "that the Republicans have been making a real effort to speak on the floor about it because it's a huge concern right now."

These efforts are particularly aimed at "trying to make people understand what [Democrats] are trying to do," and "not for any good policy reason, but because they are pandering to their liberal base," Fischbach offered.

That being said, the congresswoman noted a majority don't support taxpayers being forced to fund abortion. "For them to be pushing it," then, "is going against the majority of the people." 

Still, Rep. Fischbach affirmed that they "are trying to reach out to everybody," including Democratic colleagues. This outreach comes from pro-life groups, like NRLC, who are reminding Democrats "it's okay to vote against eliminating Hyde."

Regardless of whether there is support or not from Democratic colleagues, the congresswoman reassured Townhall that "the House Republican Conference is a strong pro-life" one, particularly under the leadership of Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). 

The convention's opening session also referenced Hyde, with a reassurance that the pro-life movement, including House leadership and Rep. Fischbach, "will fight tooth and nail" to preserve Hyde, as Democrats are engaged in "an unprecedented push" to get rid of it. 

Individual convention sessions touted public support for Hyde as well. While numerous polls show a majority or strong plurality in favor of Hyde, the NRLC referenced the annual Knights of Columbus/Marist poll. According to their most recent poll, from January, 58 to 38 percent of respondents support the Hyde Amendment.

Sen. Cotton also made remarks at the convention's closing banquet. In a speech which truly inspired and engaged the crowd, he touched upon every pro-life facet imaginable.

Our discussion also referenced such inspiring reminders. "If you just look through the annals of history," the senator told Townhall, "there are few times in which the passionate defense of the natural quality of all mankind and the defense of their right to live and prosper has not been needed."