(CNSNews.com) - The House Budget Committee voted 19-17 Monday night against recommending that the Stupak-Pitts Amendment be included in the health-care reconciliation bill that the full House is likely to consider later this week. The amendment would ban funding of abortion through federally subsidized health care plans.
While debating the Stupak-Pitts Amendment in the committee, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said that House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio)—who was not present—and others who took his position that the Senate health-care bill needed to be amended to prevent federal funding of abortion had “willfully continued to repeat falsehoods about” the status of abortion funding in that bill.
DeLauro contended that the Senate bill did not allow federal funding of abortion. “Holding up this bill to play politics on the abortion issue is emphatically not a pro-life stance,” she said.
The reconciliation bill is designed to amend the full health-care bill that passed the Senate in December and, together with that bill, enact the dramatic restructuring of the nation’s health-care system sought by President Obama and the Democratic leadership.
The Senate health-care bill would allow people to use federal subsidies to buy health insurance plans that cover abortions, while insisting that everyone who buys such a plan must pay at least one dollar of their own money in a special supplemental premium, under the theory that this particular dollar—and not the many federal tax dollars flowing into the same insurance plan—would cover any abortions the plan funds.
The version of the health-care plan that passed the House in November included an amendment sponsored by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) that would ban any federal funds from paying for any part of any health care plan that covers abortions. The Stupak-Pitts Amendment mirrors the language of the Hyde Amendment that has been included in various annual federal appropriations bills for more than three decades. The Hyde Amendment itself will not apply to the new health-care programs initiated under the Senate health-care bill because they will not be funded through annual appropriations.
The Budget Committee met Monday afternoon and evening to consider amendments to a draft of the health-care reconciliation bill. The amendments approved by the Budget Committee are considered non-binding recommendations to the House Rules Committee, which is expected to approve a final version of the reconciliation bill later this week.
If the Stupak-Pitts Amendment is not included in the reconciliation bill, and the reconciliation bill becomes law, the new federal health-care system created by the combination of the Senate bill and the reconciliation bill would in fact allow tax dollars to fund health care plans that cover abortions.
Three Budget Committee Democrats voted to recommend that the Rules Committee include the Stupak-Pitts Amendment in the final version of the bill. They were Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D.-Ohio), Rep. Marion Berry (D-Ark.) and Rep. Jim Langevin (R.I.). One Republican, Rep. Scott Garrett (N.J.), did not vote on the amendment.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) introduced the amendment in the committee. The Senate health-care bill, Jordan said, “represents the largest threat to innocent human life since Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court."
The Stupak-Pitts Amendment, he said, “simply says that no federal dollars can go to pay for abortion or subsidize a plan that covers abortion. This continues the current policy under the Hyde Amendment, and makes sure that it is permanently applied to any health care reform law.”
Rep. DeLauro spoke adamantly against the amendment, insisting that the Senate health care bill already barred abortion funding. “I will say it one more time, since for some reason too many of our colleagues have not gotten the message, or like Congressman Boehner, have willfully continued to repeat falsehoods about it,” said DeLauro. “Other than the situations excepted by the Hyde language as has been the case for years now, no federal funds are used for abortion, or can be used for abortion in this health-care package.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has sided with Boehner not DeLauro (both of whom are Catholic) on this question.
“Disappointingly, the Senate-passed bill in particular does not meet our moral criteria on life and conscience,” the bishops said in a Jan. 26 letter to members of the Senate.
“Specifically, it violates the longstanding federal policy against the use of federal funds for elective abortions and health plans that include such abortions—a policy upheld in all health programs covered by the Hyde Amendment as well as in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and now in the House-passed Affordable Health Care for America Act. We believe legislation that fails to comply with this policy and precedent is not true health care reform and should be opposed until this fundamental problem is remedied.”