House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Wednesday said the House would vote next week on legislation that would ban the use of taxpayer funds for abortion.
"I am also proud to announce that next week, the House will vote once and for all to end taxpayer funding for abortions," Cantor told the March for Life rally in Washington today. That rally was held by abortion opponents to mark the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision.
Smith's bill, H.R. 7, introduced last May, would enact a permanent ban on taxpayer funds being used for abortion services that is typically renewed each year. The Hyde Amendment has been included as a rider annually for more than three decades, and there are other abortion prohibits that are renewed by Congress.
But Republicans have argued that public funding for groups like Planned Parenthood also helps subsidize abortion, even though that group is required to ensure that no public money is used for that purpose. When Smith introduced his bill, he said several studies show that abortion is reduced when public funds for the procedure dry up.
Smith's bill goes further than banning taxpayer funds for abortions. It would also eliminate a tax credit for people and small businesses who buy a health plan under ObamaCare that covers abortion.
The House passed a similar bill in 2011 that eliminated the ability of people to deduct the purchase of abortion coverage from their taxes. That language is gone from Smith's new bill — the older language led to Democratic complaints that the bill went too far by including tax provisions.
"For the first time, this bill places restrictions on how women with private insurance can spend their private dollars in purchasing health insurance," Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said. "This bill will deny tax credits for women who buy the type of health insurance that they currently have, health insurance that covers a full range of reproductive care."
In his speech Wednesday, Cantor acknowledged that it would be a "tougher task" to get the bill passed in the Senate.
"But I can make you this promise: The people's House will stand for life," he said. "We will do everything in our power to make sure that our values and the sanctity of life are reflected in the law of the land."
The House passed a late-term abortion ban last summer; six Democrats voted for it, and six Republicans voted against it.
The House Rules Committee will meet Monday afternoon to write a rule for Smith's bill — mostly likely, a closed rule that doesn't allow for any amendments.
— This story was updated Friday at 2:10 p.m. to include late changes made to the Smith bill on tax provisions.