Omnibus Spending Bill Funds Abortions in Nation’s Capital, Vote Thursday
by Steven Ertelt
December 9, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A House-Senate Conference committee met Tuesday night to prepare an omnibus bill combining several spending measures that must be approved soon to fund the federal government. The omnibus bill includes a provision that would overturn a longstanding law that stops abortion funding in the nation’s capital.
As LifeNews.com has reported, pro-life advocates were concerned about two other potential pro-abortion provisions.
The omnibus bill could have made permanent President Barack Obama’s reversal of the Mexico City Policy — his action made it so taxpayers are forced to fund groups that promote and perform abortions overseas. The omnibus could have also overturned a law that prohibits taxpayer funding of abortions in the health insurance plan for federal employees.
Members of the conference committee removed those two concerns, but left in place the language overturning the Dornan amendment.
The Dornan language prevented the federal government from paying for abortions in the District of Columbia, whose budget is overseen by Congress.
The House will vote on the omnibus as soon as Thursday and pro-life advocates are urging members of the House to vote no on the bill because of the abortion funding.
However, pro-abortion lawmakers, led by pro-abortion District of Columbia Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, will be looking to pass the bill and its abortion funding provision, which she called a "victory."
If the House approves the omnibus bill, Republican senators have told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid they plan to filibuster the legislation if the abortion funding provisions remain.
Some 35 lawmakers signed a letter to Reid making that promise and urging him to drop the abortion funding from the omnibus bill.
"We have grave concerns regarding the exclusion of longstanding funding limitations on abortion in the various appropriations bills that are currently before Congress," the senators said. "We cannot, in good conscience, allow these provisions to move forward, even in an omnibus appropriations bill."
"We want to assure you that we are prepared to take full advantage of our rights under Senate rules to prevent massive taxpayer subsidies for abortions and abortion-related activities," the Republicans added.
The five Republican senators who didn’t sign the letter were Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Richard Lugar (Ind.), and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).
The House complied and approved a bill that funds abortions in Washington and then the House Appropriations Committee voted largely along partisan lines to prevent a pro-life amendment restoring the funding ban, called the Dornan Amendment.
On the Senate side, Sen. Sam Brownback, a pro-life Kansas Republican, offered an amendment to the Financial Services appropriations bill (S. 1432) to restore the long-standing abortion funding limits.
However, the amendment failed in committee by a vote of 15-13 with Democrats mostly voting against the amendment and Republicans supporting it. Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas broke with their caucus to support the Brownback amendment.
The 2009 fiscal year for the federal government ended on September 30, but only five of the 12 bills needed to operate the federal government have been signed into law.
The programs funded through the remaining seven bills are operating under a continuing resolution that expires on December 18, so Congress must take action by then to continue funding for the federal government.
ACTION: Contact members of the House and Senate at 202-224-3121 or https://www.Senate.gov and https://www.House.gov and urge them to oppose the omnibus bill because of the taxpayer funding of abortions in the District of Columbia.
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