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Tipsheet

Sorry Pro-Abortion Dems, Hyde is Likely Here to Stay

AP Photo/Steve Helber

Pro-abortion Democrats are really racking up their losses. As a Tuesday report from Alice Miranda Ollstein and Jennifer Scholtes highlighted for POLITICO, this includes the Hyde Amendment, which protects taxpayers from having to fund elective abortions. 

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"Dems, despite their control, all but concede on federal abortion spending," their headline reads. While Democrats are in control, it's by the narrowest of margins. Further, Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, is pro-life and has been adamant in his commitment to keeping Hyde and his insistence that it remains in bills he is to support.

Leaving Hyde in place is fundamentally about protecting unborn children and taxpayers from having to fund their destruction. It's also a pro-life compromise that has been in place since 1976. 

"The Hyde amendment prevents taxpayers from having to pay taxes for abortions. In a 50-50 Senate, we need to honor the bipartisan status quo," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is quoted as saying in a floor speech. 

In order to get a deal on the government spending bill, including Hyde is non-negotiable. As the report mentioned:

Though Democrats won’t publicly admit it, they’re soon set to concede defeat on federal funding for abortion. 

After months of tense negotiations, the two parties joined together last week on a government spending framework they insist will swiftly lead to a massive deal to boost agency bottom lines into the fall. Officially, they’re agreeing to save specific policy disputes for later, including the longtime debate over the half-century ban on federal funding for abortions, known as the Hyde amendment. But Republicans are already declaring victory in that battle. 

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), his party’s top appropriator in the Senate, said after that cross-party accord that the Hyde amendment “absolutely” needs to be included, or else Democrats won’t get the Republican support they need to pass the bill through the 50-50 Senate. 

“There wouldn’t be any bill at all if we didn’t have those in there. The legacy riders have to be in there,” Shelby told reporters on Thursday. 

Shelby is saying plainly what Democrats have known since they locked up control of Washington last year: Their promise of finally kicking the decades-old ban on abortion funding is almost certain to fail due to Senate Republicans, like so many of their other policy ambitions. In the case of the Hyde amendment, President Joe Biden will likely have to approve an extension of a funding ban that he told Democratic primary voters he “could no longer continue to abide by.

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Since Biden took office, however, Democrats have become further emboldened to get rid of Hyde. Last summer I covered the legislative battles between Democrats and Republicans about passing a budget that purposefully excluded Hyde. There was also a breakout session last October from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), pro-life House members, and stakeholders warning about Hyde being left out of the Build Back Better bill. 

Flip-flopping Joe Biden, who previously supported Hyde for his entire political career before 2019 during the Democratic presidential primary, purposefully left Hyde out of his budget proposal last May. At one point in his career, then Sen. Joe Biden touted his support of Hyde, including even more restrictive forms than current law, in fundraising letters to constituents. 

The Democratic Party platform for the 2020 election was hyper-focused on doing away with Hyde in addition to supporting "abortion on demand" with no regulations or restrictions.

The House ultimately passed a repeal of the Hyde Amendment when voting to pass Build Back Better last November. The body also passed the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA) last September, which includes taxpayer funding of abortion and repeals virtually every pro-life success that has passed at the state level. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) broke with his party to vote against it. 

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In addition to Biden's campaign promises about a commitment to codify Roe v. Wade, the Biden White House has expressed eager support for passing WHPA, which will do just that. 

Polls consistently show support for Hyde, as even Slate warned in 2019. More recently, a Knights of Columbus/Marist poll from last month found 54 percent of adults oppose using tax dollars for abortion. 

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