Two hundred House Republicans, accounting for nearly the entire caucus, signed on to a pledge to oppose a budget bill that eliminates the Hyde Amendment, the measure that prevents federal funding from being used on abortion services.
“We cannot allow the Hyde Amendment and other important pro-life safeguards to be decimated by Congressional Democrats. Accordingly, we pledge to vote against any government funding bill that eliminates or weakens the Hyde Amendment or other current-law, pro-life appropriations provisions,” said the letter to House and Senate leadership, released by the Republican Study Committee.
A number of conservative anti-abortion groups support the letter, including Heritage Action for America; March for Life Action, which will be using the letter as part of its congressional scorecard; Family Research Council; Susan B. Anthony List; Eagle Forum; Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; and Concerned Women for America.
“Despite decades of consensus on this issue, radical Democrats have signaled they no longer have an interest in protecting the conscience rights of millions of Americans who do not want their hard-earned money used to pay for abortions. My colleagues and I demand congressional leaders protect the ban on taxpayer-funded abortions and save the Hyde Amendment,” Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks said in a statement.
With Democratic control of the House, Senate, and White House, President Biden is facing pressure from pro-abortion activists and politicians to end the longtime measure. Connecticut Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro, chairwoman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, in December dubbed the Hyde Amendment a “discriminatory policy” and said that the current government funding year would be the “last year” that the Hyde Amendment remains law.
“Repealing these pro-life provisions would destroy nearly half a century of bipartisan consensus,” the letter from the Republican Study Committee said. “Each year since 1976, Congress has included Hyde protections in annually enacted appropriations. No president in American history has ever vetoed an appropriations bill due to its inclusion of the Hyde Amendment. Moreover, President Obama maintained the Hyde Amendment in each of his budget proposals. As recent as June 2019, former Vice President Joe Biden supported the Hyde Amendment and acknowledged that it works harmoniously with federal funding for women’s healthcare.”
Biden was a longtime supporter of the Hyde Amendment but reversed his position early during his presidential campaign in a highly scrutinized flip-flop-flip in 2019.
He told an American Civil Liberties Union organizer on the campaign trail that he supports repealing the Hyde Amendment, but then his campaign told NBC News that he supports the amendment. A day later, Biden said ” circumstances have changed.”
“If I believe healthcare is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code,” he said then.
During the Biden administration’s first White House press briefing last week, press secretary Jen Psaki dodged a question on whether Biden supports the Hyde Amendment.
“I will just take the opportunity to remind all of you that he is a devout Catholic and somebody who attends church regularly. He started his day attending church with his family this morning,” Psaki said. “But I don’t have anything more for you on that.”
The 10 Republican members who did not sign the letter all have anti-abortion records or stated positions: Reps. Mark Amodei of Nevada, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, Andy Harris of Maryland, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Tom McClintock of California, Devin Nunes of California, Maria Elvira Salazar of Florida, and Chris Smith of New Jersey.