On Friday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) held a roundtable discussion with other pro-life members of Congress and those present on behalf of pro-life organizations. While discussing what is at stake with the Hyde Amendment and other key pro-life provisions left out of the Democratic $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, McCarthy began by referring to the right to life as "a right, as Ronald Reagan once said, without it no other rights have meaning."
McCarthy reminded that the Hyde Amendment, which protects Americans from having to fund elective abortions with their hard-earned tax dollars, has always been a bipartisan compromise since it's been passed every year beginning in 1976. He called it "interesting" that "what the Democrats have been doing this time, has been a change of course of decades, of where people had a difference in opinion, but they all came together when it came to the Hyde Amendment."
As he also emphasized, President Joe Biden himself was once a vocal supporter of Hyde, even bragging about such support to a constituent in 1994, when he was a senator.
"Now I haven't said this very often, but I agree with Joe Biden in that moment of time," McCarthy offered, adding "so did everyone in Congress mostly." Despite the Democratic change in position, McCarthy reminded the purpose of Hyde has not changed.
To highlight what's really at stake, Leader McCarthy reminded that while he's "alarmed with so much that's in this bill... this is one fundamental point that America had come together on for the last 50 years, and without one debate, Democrats have decided to change it in every element in every bill, especially in this one. And when you're talking trillions of dollars being spent, you're talking lives being lost."
There on behalf of Susan B. Anthony List, Marilyn Musgrave also recalled her days as a congresswoman when she met with McCarthy asking him to protect life, noting he has "exceeded expectations," telling him that it was "a commitment you have made and you fulfilled it in every way, and then some."
McCarthy referenced a 2021 poll that showed that 58 percent of Americans are opposed to taxpayer funding of abortions. This Marist/Knights of Columbus poll has been conducted at least once a year for the past several years to coincide with the March for Life and the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
Later, Jeanne Mancini, the president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, referenced how even a Slate writer acknowledged that Hyde is popular.
Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), a medical doctor who specialized in obstetric anesthesiology, reminded that another concept that hasn't changed is the science explaining life begins at conception, something the president seems to have had a change of heart on.
He also spoke to the issue from a way that used the Democrats' own talking points against them. For instance, while Democrats speak of "equity," abortion disproportionately impacts minority populations at a higher rate. And, despite Democrats touting all the good that the infrastructure package does, it does not fund resources that could help pregnant and parenting women, such as crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs).
As the members and those present on behalf of pro-life organizations underscored, it is not merely that the Democrats are seeking to remove Hyde from the reconciliation bill.
Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-MN) noted that "what the Democrats are doing now is not only an assault on the Hyde Amendment, but it is an assault on life," including codifying Roe v. Wade. Last month the House passed the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA), which will do that, as well as invalidate virtually every state pro-life law.
Another member, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), explained that "this reconciliation has multiple spigots of funding that will fund abortion on demand," reminding how ObamaCare funds abortion, despite promises from the Obama administration, and that Democrats will try the same lie this time again. The congressman also brought up how states that do not use state tax dollars for abortion will now be forced to do so under the reconciliation bill.
Carol Tobias, the president of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), likewise warned the reconciliation bill will require insurance plans to include abortion coverage in the states that did not expand Medicaid, despite how these states "lawfully elected to have exchanges without abortion coverage," according to Tobias. The reconciliation bill will override provisions for the states Smith mentioned above.
Musgrave also mentioned plans that look like Medicaid, but are directly funded by the Treasury and do not have Hyde protections.
When prompted to explain further, Smith and Tobias mentioned that the courts are not likely to provide relief if this is what elected officials decide to do. As Tobias also told Townhall following the roundtable discussion, it will be harder to reinsert Hyde in a future Congress if Democrats are successful in getting rid of it this time.
There is hope, however. While protecting the Hyde Amendment used to be much more bipartisan, it hasn't become a completely partisan issue. As I reported in June, Sen. Joe Manchin, a pro-life Democrat from West Virginia, made clear he will stick by Hyde. Sine then, Manchin has consistently reaffirmed his commitment and has also made clear that anything that comes to the Senate without it will be dead on arrival. Musgrave called Manchin "a symbol of the bipartisan support" Hyde has.
In the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats are only in the majority because Vice President Kamala Harris serves as a tie breaking vote, all Democrats need to vote in favor of the spending bill for it to pass.
That hope, along with heartfelt gratitude, extends to Sen. Manchin holding the line in insisting Hyde make it into the reconciliation bill. This is especially when Rep. Smith repeatedly warned that "wordsmiths" might try to convince Manchin of some sort of compromising language at the 11th hour. As the congressman reminded, people have even accosted Sen. Manchin on kayaks to pressure him to support the president's agenda.
In an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union" earlier this month, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, claimed that a majority of Americans don't support Hyde. She was subsequently fact-checked for such claims.
Hyde is not the only pro-life provision that pro-abortion Democrats have sought to get rid of. They are likewise seeking to get rid of the Helms Amendment, so that they can also fund abortions overseas with taxpayer dollars, an even more unpopular idea.
Leader McCarthy also conducted a roundtable discussion on amnesty and immigration, which Julio was present for. You can read his write-up here.
One of the Hyde Amendments most vocal supporters used to be then-Senator Joe Biden.— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) October 22, 2021
In 1994, he said “the government should not tell those with strong convictions against abortion, such as you and I, that we must pay for them.”
I agree with Joe Biden! https://t.co/6QYqFUtmeQ