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Spending bill that re-funds abortion orgs fails US Senate vote

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WASHINGTON, D.C., November 1, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Partisan fighting over unrelated matters granted a temporary reprieve to pro-lifers Thursday by leading the Senate to vote against advancing an appropriations bill that would restore funding to international abortion organizations which were defunded near the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Shortly after taking office in 2017, the president not only reinstated the Mexico City Policy, which bars the United States’ $8.8 billion in foreign aid from being distributed to entities that perform abortions, but took the additional step of expanding it to groups that promote or discuss abortion.

Last month, Conservative Partnership Institute senior policy director Rachel Bovard warned pro-lifers of an amendment that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) added to a recent spending bill that would provide almost $60 million to several U.S.-based organizations that list abortion as part of their core mission. 

Shaheen boasted in a press release that she also added funding to the United Nations Population Fund, from which the Trump administration withdrew in 2017 over the fund’s participation in China’s forced abortion regime.

Republicans controlling the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the bill via voice vote, without objecting to the Shaheen amendment, despite an August agreement by both parties that spending bills negotiated in September would contain “no poison pills, additional new riders, additional CHIMPS, or other changes in policy or conventions that allow for higher spending levels, or any non-appropriations measures unless agreed to on a bipartisan basis by the four leaders with the approval of the President.”

On Thursday, the Senate voted 51-41 to advance the bill, which most Republicans favored and most Democrats opposed. But because the chamber’s current filibuster rules require 60 votes to pass most legislation, it failed.

The abortion language does not appear to have been a factor in the vote. Politico reports that Democrats “overwhelmingly objected to starting debate on the second bundle, protesting that Republican leaders have not engaged the chamber's minority party in negotiating bipartisan spending levels on the Senate's versions of the funding bills.”

The next funding deadline is slated for November 21, meaning pro-lifers have little time to relax. March for Life Action president Tom McClusky told Catholic News Agency the best-case scenario would be for Congress to fund the government with another short-term continuing resolution rather than these mini-omnibus bills.

“If I think everything were to be a CR [a short-term extension of funding], I think that would be a good thing, because once you start getting into these minibuses and omnibuses, you don’t always know what’s inside them until it’s too late,” he said.

Should the Shaheen amendment survive in future versions of the spending provision, it will be up to President Trump to veto it. Trump has repeatedly demonstrated he is unwilling to veto spending bills that contain abortion dollars, but LifeSiteNews is currently circulating a petition calling on the president to remain true to his word.

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