WASHINGTON, D.C., September 26, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The GOP-controlled Congress is poised to pass yet another spending bill that continues to send tax dollars to the abortion industry, with at least two Republican lawmakers decrying the bill and a handful of pro-life leaders calling on President Donald Trump to veto it.
CNN reports that Congress has until September 30 to pass the latest appropriations package, dubbed a “minibus,” that funds the military, the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor, and disaster relief for Hurricane Florence. Other government operations will be covered by a short-term continuing resolution until December 7.
The final version passed the U.S. Senate last week and is expected to clear the U.S. House of Representatives this week. Outgoing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and other Republicans on Capitol Hill present the bill as a necessary measure to avoid a government shutdown. Several Congressmen, including Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, have expressed frustration that it fails to meet conservative budget priorities such as funding a border wall and defunding Planned Parenthood.
“For the second straight year of unified Republican governance—unified pro-life governance—Congress’s annual spending bills will include no new reforms protecting unborn children or getting federal taxpayers out of the abortion business,” Lee said in a floor speech last week, CNS News reports. He noted that the latest version of the bill actually gutted pro-life language from an earlier House version.
“The House version […] denied taxpayer funds to the largest abortion provider in the country, Planned Parenthood. It eliminated Title X family planning grants, which cross-subsidize abortion providers. It prohibited federal funding of research on aborted fetal tissue. It included the Conscience Protection Act protecting pro-life people and groups from funding discrimination,” he explained. But “none of these modest, commonsense spending reforms” were “made a priority by the people empowered to set priorities.”
“Under this bill, neither the unborn nor taxpayers are any more protected from the abortion industry than they were under President Obama and a unified Democratic Congress,” Lee lamented.
“This bill funds things we said we wouldn’t, like Planned Parenthood, but doesn’t fund things we said we would, like the border security wall,” said Jordan. “That’s unacceptable. Republicans need to actually do what we said” we would do.
The conservative, pro-life Jordan is currently running to replace Ryan as House Speaker, and has made fidelity to campaign promises such as defunding Planned Parenthood a cornerstone of his message.
Other Republicans, such as Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, have also warned that neglecting the GOP’s 2016 campaign promises is politically dangerous. But Meadows told CNN he puts the odds of the bill failing, resulting in a government shutdown, “at less than 5 [percent].”
Congressional Republicans’ failure to defund Planned Parenthood has been one of pro-lifers’ biggest sources of frustration since 2016. GOP leaders attached defunding to a failed Obamacare repeal bill last year, and have been unwilling to pursue standalone legislation since. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is unwilling to revise rules requiring 60 Senate votes for most bills, and pro-abortion Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski currently have the power to block simple-majority votes.
Last month, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky tried to add defunding language to the Senate version of the spending bill, and excoriated GOP leaders for attempting to block his amendment. The amendment failed after his floor speech shamed leaders into holding a last-minute vote.
“Please explain to voters at home why […] passing huge deficit spending bills is more important than trying to save lives, and please explain to America why anyone would trust politicians who continue to break their promises,” Paul challenged members of his own party.
President Trump has expressed frustration over the contents of the bill, tweeting on September 20 that “Republicans must finally get tough.” But he also indicated to a Montana audience recently that he’s powerless against GOP congressional leaders who “don't want to do anything to upset the apple cart.”
“If it were up to me? I'd shut down government over border security. In a second,” Trump added, saying he “most likely […] will not do that,” because leaders promised to address it “immediately after the election.” In March, Trump signed another $1.3 trillion budget bill that funded Planned Parenthood, after complaining about the choice Congress gave him.
On Wednesday, five pro-life leaders – Live Action founder Lila Rose, March for Life Action president Tom McClusky, Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkins, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee CEO Penny Nance, and Heartbeat International board chair Peggy Hartshorn – sent the president a letter calling on him to veto the bill.
“Earlier this year, after signing a $1.3 trillion spending bill – which also left out key Administration priorities – you vowed, 'I say to Congress, I will never sign another bill like this again,'” the letter reminded Trump. “Mr. President, the result of this bill is just like the last one. We ask that you send this bill back to Congress without your signature and continue to do so until it stops funding abortion providers with our taxpayer dollars and protects the lives of preborn children in this country.”
Yet Trump confirmed Wednesday he intends to sign the bill, telling reporters “we're going to keep the government open” during a meeting at the United Nations with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Trump has told pro-lifers that electing more Republicans in November is the key to finally defunding Planned Parenthood, and Politico reports that Republicans are currently seizing on abortion to turn out pro-life voters in Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, and West Virginia.
“This isn't going to work,” Conservative Review’s Chris Pandolfo predicted in response to the Politico report. “You can't fund Planned Parenthood without putting up a fight and then expect pro-life voters to take you seriously.”