The omnibus spending bill is drawing the ire of national pro-life leaders and members of Congress who say many Republicans have broken their promises to the base of the party by funding Planned Parenthood and rejecting an amendment that would provide conscience protections for healthcare workers who refuse to participate in abortions.
“It is incredibly disheartening that conscience language was not included especially given that it is reflective of the majority of Americans’ views in addition to the fact that for 10 years strong this has been a priority for pro-life groups, who received assurance from Leadership that it was also a priority,” said Vice President of Government Affairs for March for Life, Tom McClusky. “In addition, included in this bill is continued funding for our nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, despite the current investigations into the trafficking of baby parts and the recent GAO report confirming the billions of taxpayer dollars it has received in recent years.”
McClusky told Breitbart News pro-life leaders were told the Conscience Protection Act was a priority for House Speaker Paul Ryan, yet it was not included in the massive spending bill.
Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), who drove the effort to include the Conscience Protection Act in the omnibus – to protect healthcare workers who refuse to participate in abortions due to faith beliefs or moral convictions – voted against the spending bill:
Meanwhile, conservative priorities like the #ConscienceProtectionAct weren't included. It was a bad bill and a bad process, plain and simple.
— Diane Black (@RepDianeBlack) March 22, 2018
With a pro-life majority in the #House & #Senate, a pro-life @POTUS in the White House, & the overwhelming support of the American people, the time to enact the #ConscienceProtectionAct is now. @SpeakerRyan @GOPLeader
— Diane Black (@RepDianeBlack) March 7, 2018
While the Hyde Amendment, a longstanding provision which prohibits taxpayer funding of most abortions is, as always, attached to the current spending bill, pro-life Republicans wanted it expanded so that any insurance company bailouts – if establishment members of Congress got their way – would also not allow taxpayer funds to cover abortions in their insurance plans.
As the Washington Post notes, “Democrats, who wanted to preserve the ability of marketplace plans to cover abortions, rejected the additional Hyde language,” and were only willing to maintain the current status quo Hyde provision.
“Under that language, marketplace plans covering abortions must collect an extra fee from customers and keep those funds separate to pay for the procedure,” the Post reports.
“I think the Democrats basically decided they would rather have subsidies for plans with abortion coverage rather than have cost-sharing reductions and reinsurance to drive down premiums,” the Family Research Council’s David Christensen said.
Planned Parenthood tweeted its appreciation to pro-abortion Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) for “pushing back on attempts to eliminate private insurance coverage of abortion!”:
— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) March 22, 2018
“When you have one spending bill – as opposed to 12 – we’re told, ‘Pick your priority,’” McClusky told Breitbart News. “There are other things that we’ve been fighting for – for years – that were left out of this bill, let alone defunding Planned Parenthood. So, we’re told ‘Pick your priority,’ and then when it gets closer, we’re told, ‘Do you really want to shut the government down over this – the whole government?’”
“Our response is usually, ‘Yes,’ but no member of Congress wants to, and if they went through regular order, you’d only shut down one-twelfth of the government,” he added.
“While we appreciate that this bill will maintain the status quo on pro-life provisions, we did not elect this Congress or President to maintain the status quo on healthcare, which funds abortion,” McClusky said.
Troy Newman, president of pro-life organization Operation Rescue, said in a statement that addresses President Donald Trump, who indicated he is considering a veto of the omnibus:
Mr. President, Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion business in the U.S., making them one of the largest abusers of human beings in the world. It is currently under investigation by your Department of Justice for engaging in the illegal sale of aborted baby remains for profit, as revealed in a series of authenticated undercover videos that shook the nation in 2015.
Two Congressional investigations also provided evidence that there is enough probable cause to charge Planned Parenthood with multiple crimes.
During your 2016 Presidential Campaign, you promised to defund Planned Parenthood. I urge you now to keep your promise and veto the Omnibus bill until it no longer provides any of our tax money to Planned Parenthood.
Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkins said in a statement that the failure of the GOP to follow through with its promise to defund Planned Parenthood shows why elections are important.
“More pro-life leaders from both parties are needed to make an investment in life, not the abortion industry,” she said. “We are wasting scarce taxpayer dollars by allowing those monies to be funneled from real, full service medical centers, like Federally Qualified Health Centers, to the abortion mega-vendor, Planned Parenthood. Efforts to protect the conscience rights of Americans in the budget deserve our support, as no one should be forced into the ugly business of abortion.”
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who chairs the House Freedom Caucus, also said in a statement:
This omnibus is nowhere close to what Republicans promised to fight for. When the American people sent us to Congress, their message was loud and their mandate clear: Secure the border; Repeal and replace Obamacare; Protect Second Amendment rights from bureaucrats in Washington; Defund Planned Parenthood; Cut wasteful spending; ‘Drain the swamp’ and change the unsustainable way Washington, D.C. does business.
This budget embraces the polar opposite of these principles. We are not funding the wall. We are putting Second Amendment rights at risk. We are failing to provide families relief from Obamacare. We are still sending taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood. We are not cutting federal funds to sanctuary cities. We are growing the size of government at a break-neck pace. And we are doing all of this through a 2,300 page spending bill, written privately by four leadership members, that became public only 24 hours ago.
“This is wrong,” Meadows added. “This is not the limited government conservatism our voters demand. Our constituents—our employers—deserve better.”
“Congress is broken,” the pro-life leader said. “It cannot continue doing business through large ominous Omnibus or Continuing Resolutions. Until Congress repairs itself, pro-life priorities, such as much needed conscience protections, will never get passed.”