Continuing Resolution Sets Up Battle on DC Abortion Funding

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 21, 2010   |   1:37PM   |   Washington, DC

The Senate voted 82 to 14 today to invoke cloture on legislation to fund the government through March 4, 2011 after rejecting an omnibus funding bill containing several goodies for the abortion industry.

The omnibus bill Republicans stopped last week funded abortions with taxpayer funds in the nation’s capital and contained increases in funding for pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood that engage in international family planning efforts. But the Continuing Resolution does not contain the increase in Planned Parenthood funding or an authorization for a global women’s affairs office that pro-life groups worried would be used to promote international abortion.

The Continuing Resolution the Senate is expected to pass this afternoon will be considered by the House of Representatives this evening and likely approved.

It would continue those pro-life limitation amendments or “riders” currently in place by keeping the currently abortion funding limits in various pieces of legislation funding various federal departments in place without making any changes. These include the Hyde Amendment, limits on taxpayer funding of abortions for federal employees, and limits on international abortion funding.

The continuing resolution does keep in place the changes Democrats approved to the District of Columbia funding bill that allows abortion funding in the nation’s capital. Although this will allow public funding for abortion to continue in the District of Columbia until March 4, it will also allow the incoming session of Congress, where pro-life Republicans will control the House, to determine funding limitations for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year.

House Republicans, with the support of pro-life organizations, will likely approve a District of Columbia budget that would reinstate the Dornan Amendment that Democrats removed to allowed taxpayer funding of abortions there. After passing such a bill, pressure would be placed on Senate Democrats to approve the measure and then on President Barack Obama to sign the measure into law.

Last December, Senate Democrats approved an omnibus spending bill lifting the 13-year-long ban on directly paying for abortions in the nation’s capital and Obama eventually signed the measure.

Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Richard Shelby of Alabama sided with Democrats to move ahead to a vote on the 2009 bill. Those same three Republicans voted for the bill and three Democrats, pro-abortion Sens. Evan Bayh of Indiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, all voted against it for other reasons.

Shelby voted for the bill even though he signed a letter along with 35 other Republicans saying they would filibuster it because of the abortion funding. Collins and Cochran did not sign the letter.

National Right to Life Committee legislative director Douglas Johnson wrote to members of Congress urging them to oppose the bill because of the abortion funding in the District of Columbia and said the number of abortions in the nation’s capital would increase by 1,000 annually because of the taxpayer funding.