Tuesday: House calls up abortion bill

The House meets Tuesday afternoon to start work on controversial legislation that would permanently end taxpayer-funded abortion, and prohibit the payment of subsidies to people who buy an ObamaCare insurance plan that covers abortion.

Republicans promised last week that this vote would be held, in the midst of the March for Life rally in Washington.

ADVERTISEMENT
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, H.R. 7, is similar to one the House passed in 2011 with the help of 16 Democrats. Both bills would make permanent the ban on federally funded abortions — that ban is usually enacted through an annual policy rider that gets attached to the Health and Human Services spending bill.

But the latest bill was tweaked by House Republicans to reflect the new reality of ObamaCare. Those tweaks would end federal subsidies for ObamaCare health plans that cover abortion, language that Democrats will say limits women's access to legal abortion.

Members will start by debating and voting on the rule for the bill, and will then debate and hold a vote on the bill itself.

The rule covering the abortion bill also sets out the rules for debating and voting on the final farm bill language that the House and Senate agreed to on Monday. That bill was expected to pass the House by Wednesday.

House Republicans initially sought a $39 billion cut to the federal food stamp program in the farm bill. But the final House-Senate agreement cuts just $8 billion, a doubling of the Senate's proposed $4 billion cut.

Negotiators from both parties have indicated support for the compromise, which should allow many Democrats to support the bill.

Farm bill negotiators said the cuts are achieved by ending waste in the program, and that no one would be kicked of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Still, some Democrats were already arguing Monday night that the cuts are unacceptable, and would make it harder for more than one million people to feed their families.

The final bill spends about $1 trillion in farm subsidies and crop insurance over the next debate, and saves about $24 billion compared to current farm programs over 10 years.

A link to the 959-page farm bill can be seen here, and a link to a 186-page explanatory statement is here.

At around 5:30 p.m., the House chamber will be cleared for a security sweep in preparation for President Obama's State of the Union address, which will start at 9 p.m.

The Senate starts at 10 a.m., and as usual, senators will hold their caucus lunches in the early afternoon.

On Monday, the Senate voted to end debate on a motion to proceed to a bill that would delay key provisions of the 2012 reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). That vote allows the Senate to continue work on this bill, which would delay insurance rate hikes until further government study is done on affordability.

— This story was corrected at 8:53 a.m. to say the Senate farm bill proposed $4 billion in cuts to food stamps.

More in Senate

Tuesday: Nominations, ending benefits for Nazis

Read more »