West Virginia Democratic senator Joe Manchin has called taxpayer funding of abortion a “red line” issue in any reconciliation bill.
On Monday evening, two pro-life Republican senators, Steve Daines of Montana and James Lankford of Oklahoma, released a memo highlighting multiple provisions in the House Democrats’ $1.75 trillion bill released last week that would fund abortion.
Daines and Lankford write that the House Democrats’ reconciliation bill:
- Mandates abortion funding for the Medicaid coverage gap population in the twelve non-expansion States through Obamacare exchange plans in 2024 and 2025, overriding state laws
- Provides $30 billion for subsidizing cost-sharing and reinsurance for individual market health coverage without any restrictions on funding abortions or plans that cover abortions
- Massively expands taxpayer funding for Obamacare exchange plans that cover abortions
- Provides more than $18 billion in health-related grants without any limits on funding abortions
You can read the their full memo on abortion-funding provisions in the reconciliation bill here.
As I reported on Friday, the reconciliation bill released by House Democrats’ last week drops the most glaring provision that would provide taxpayer-funding of abortion — a new “Medicaid-like” program that lacks the Hyde amendment. But other abortion-funding provisions remain in the bill:
The reconciliation bill’s section regarding “family planning services” could require these new [Medicaid gap] plans to cover abortions, unless abortion funding is prohibited. In the new 1,684-page reconciliation bill that Democrats released on Thursday, that section of the bill has been changed in a way that at least appears to attempt to exclude elective-abortion coverage — but actually fails to do so.
“We see the change that was made,” says Autumn Christensen of the Susan B. Anthony List. “However, it was not drafted in a way that prevents an abortion mandate because it references the Medicaid statute — which does allow for abortion — instead of referencing Medicaid appropriations, which do not allow for abortion funding.”
This issue is in the legislative weeds, but the point is important: The Hyde amendment, which prohibits Medicaid funding of abortion except in rare circumstances, must be attached each year to an appropriations bill that funds the program. The Hyde amendment is not permanently embedded in the underlying law that established Medicaid.*
“If we assume that this change was made with the intent of addressing the abortion problem, it falls short,” says Christensen. “But we look forward to a true solution.”
The bill that House Democrats unveiled on Thursday is not their final product, and negotiations are ongoing. But if the final bill isn’t scrubbed of its provisions that could fund abortion, Democrats will be setting themselves up for a fight over taxpayer funding of abortion on the Senate floor. There are also “public health” grants in the reconciliation bill that could fund abortion. “Clearly these funds are not covered by the Hyde amendment,” says Christensen.
The simplest way to ensure that the bill doesn’t fund abortion would be to explicitly include the text of the Hyde amendment in the bill — rather than cross-referencing legislation to which Hyde applies — but Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal has said Democrats think that including it would be a “political statement.” At the same time, Jayapal has (incorrectly) claimed that “none of the dollars” in the reconciliation bill would be spent on elective abortion. So there’s no reason to believe that a bill that actually ensures “none of the dollars” would be spent on abortion would lose the vote of Jayapal or any of her followers.
House Democrats are expected to release the next version of their reconciliation bill on Wednesday when the Rules Committee meets.
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