Dems Scrapped Hyde Amendment From Spending Package, But Republicans Won't Back Down

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Posted: Jul 16, 2021 3:00 PM

The Hyde Amendment failed to make its way into the spending bill which advanced out of the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday. This is the first not to include the amendment, which protects taxpayers from having to fund elective abortions. Hyde has passed every year since 1976 with bipartisan support.

The amendment failed 27-32, which all 26 Republican members and Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX) voted in favor of. 

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) offered the amendment, which Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), a medical doctor and co-chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus, spoke in support of. Both noted that the amendment was a "simple" one to include. 

Cole reminded the Democratic members that they themselves had previously supported Hyde. He blamed "pressure from the far-left" as to why President Joe Biden left it out of his proposed budget. 

"Gutting this provision," Rep. Cole warned, "is certainly an overreach by the left" and "threatens to destabilize the entire appropriations process." His assurances that "this bill will never become law if Hyde language is not included" would serve as a unifying message for Republicans. "Democrats in Congress simply do not have the majorities capable of passing this bill without Republican votes." 

The congressman also emphasized "no other issue we discuss today will carry such importance. Removing the Hyde Amendment is an extremist, left-wing proposal that is out of step with the values of the American people and cannot become law in this Congress."

Rep. Harris hit back against Democratic claims that abortion is healthcare, specifically when it comes to the unborn child. "I think I know something about delivering healthcare to women," he said as he mentioned the decades he spent as an obstetric anesthesiologist, which included working at an inner-city hospital, where 80 percent of his patients were minority women. He argued that the child is a "separate life."

He called the Weldon Amendment, which protects healthcare providers from having to perform or participate in abortions "very personal to me," when it comes to protecting the unborn child as the second patient. He also stressed the importance of respecting the religious beliefs of those opposed to participating in abortion. "As Americans we should respect every individual's religious belief," he said. 

The congressman also provided a statement to Townhall. "As my colleagues and I echoed," he said, "the Hyde Amendment has enjoyed over four decades of strong bipartisan legislative consensus. By Democrats removing this language, along with stripping the Weldon Amendment conscience rights of healthcare providers such as myself to not be forced to participate in procedures to which they hold moral and religious objections, it is certainly a poison pill. A clear majority of Americans agree the taxpayers should not foot the bill for abortion, and it is frustrating that the Committee majority has gone down this radical path."

Other Republican members spoke in support of the amendment as well. 

The spending bill passed out of committee 33-25.

Republican members emphasized party unity on the issue, and affirmed that Republicans will not vote for any spending bill without Hyde.

Republicans are prepared to go all the way. "The lifesaving provision has been supported by lawmakers across party lines and in both chambers and importantly enabled members to enter good faith negotiation on annual government funding. However, without key pro-life protections restored, Republicans cannot come to the table or vote on final appropriations. Since Senate Democrats do not have the votes needed on their own, the outcome would be a continuing resolution or, even worse, a government shutdown. I urge the Democrats to change course," Rep. Cole said in a statement.

As Townhall has covered, the Republican Study Committee, chaired by Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), proposed its own budget, which includes Hyde and claims to be the "Most Pro-Life RSC Budget Ever." Rep. Banks has also circulated a letter for House members to pledge support for Hyde. The letter, which is the single largest effort in Congress this year to save Hyde, just gained its 201st signatory in the House. A Senate version has 48 signatories. Madeline highlighted a letter from Rep. Glenn Grotham (R-WI) who, along with 170 House members, called on the president to support Hyde.

A majority of Americans have consistently supported the Hyde Amendment, according to numerous polls. Even Slate acknowledged the popularity of Hyde, warning that "Abortion Funding Isn’t As Popular As Democrats Think." 

It was published days after Biden, who was running in a crowded Democratic presidential primary, announced his opposition to Hyde, a mere day after his campaign claimed he still supported it. Not only did Biden support Hyde in the over four decades he served as a senator and vice-president, he bragged about it in letters to constituents, as Townhall highlighted.

Thursday also involved social media blitz of #HydeSavesLives, with pro-life figures, as well as pro-life groups such as Susan B. Anthony List and the National Right to Life Committee, participating. 

House and Senate leadership also communicated support for Hyde.

It is estimated that the Hyde Amendment has saved approximately 2.5 million unborn babies.