A pro-life group warns that Senate Democrats are attempting to use the end of the year omnibus funding bill to "smuggle" in the removal of three longstanding bans on government-funded abortion.
Democrats are considering attaching to the omnibus bill provisions that would drop the ban on government-funded abortion in Washington, DC, and also in the insurance plans that cover members of Congress themselves. They are also hoping to include a provision that would even prevent any future president from curbing U.S. funding of organizations that promote abortion overseas through the foreign aid program.
According to Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee, Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are using the omnibus legislation as camouflage for the pro-abortion provisions. "They're...trying to smuggle through some changes in law that would remove some longstanding pro-life policies," he explains. "They're trying to do this through an end-of-the-session catchall funding bill, which is being cooked up behind closed doors."
Johnson says proponents of the changes are trying to get them approved while not many members are focused on it. And none of the provisions being pushed were considered by the full Senate, he adds.
"What the congressional Democratic leaders are considering doing is taking a single appropriations bill that's just supposed to cover a couple of departments and just stapling a bunch of other bills to it that were never even taken up by the Senate," Johnson explains. "And these bills contain three different pro-abortion provisions. So, they want to ram these through under a fast-track procedure where the Senate would never have even debated or had a chance to vote on these measures."
Johnson is convinced that if the pro-abortion measures are attached, they will threaten passage of an appropriations bill that must be approved for the government to continue operating after December 18.
Thirty-five senators led by Republican Jim DeMint of South Carolina have sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), warning him that if the three pro-abortion provisions are included in the omnibus bill, they will use all procedures at their disposal to block its passage. The pro-abortion measures are being pushed by the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin of Illinois, and New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg.
On Tuesday, the Senate rejected the Nelson-Hatch amendment, which would have removed abortion funding from the healthcare reform bill. In taking the action, the Senate also voted to subsidize private insurance plans that cover abortion on demand. Johnson explains what happens next.
"So now the upcoming vote on cloture on the bill itself will become the key vote on whether to put the federal government into the abortion business," he offers. "We oppose cloture on this bill, which would require 60 affirmative votes -- and in addition, a number of pro-life Democrats in the House who supported passage of healthcare legislation last month will not vote for the Senate bill in its current form. So this thing is a long way from over."
Cloture means getting 60 votes to end debate. The vote killing the pro-life amendment was 54-45.