House votes to permanently ban taxpayer funds for abortion

The House passed legislation on Tuesday that would permanently codify existing law banning the use of federal funds for abortion services. 

Lawmakers approved the measure largely along party lines, with three Democrats joining Republicans in the 238-183 vote.

The legislation, written by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), would also permanently prohibit the District of Columbia from using its local funds approved by Congress for abortion services.

“That’s what we should be all about. Life affirming and the saving of human life,” said Smith.

{mosads}It does allow exceptions for cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life in danger.

The three Democrats who voted for the legislation were Reps. Henry Cuellar (Texas), Daniel Lipinski (Ill.) and Collin Peterson (Minn.).

Passage came one day after President Trump issued an executive action prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds for nongovernmental organizations that provide abortion services or support abortion rights. It also falls three days before the annual March for Life to protest the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which had its 44th anniversary over the weekend.

House Republicans have regularly scheduled votes on bills to restrict abortion over the last six years to coincide with the March for Life. But all of those bills have been met with a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.

Former President Obama also opposed the passage of each measure.

This time, however, Republicans have an ally in the White House who’s more inclined to sign legislation to limit abortions. Top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway is one of the featured speakers at this year’s March for Life. 

“As hundreds of thousands of Americans flock to Washington for the March for Life, we must never forget that defending all of our people — especially the defenseless — must be our top priority if we want to be a good and moral nation,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement. 

Republicans argued that approving legislation to permanently ensure federal taxpayer dollars aren’t used for abortion services would be a more efficient way of codifying the existing law, which comprises a patchwork of provisions in government spending bills requiring regular renewal.

The 1976 statute known as the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funds for covering abortions, has been included in annual appropriation bills.  

The District of Columbia’s delegate, Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton, chastised Republicans for considering legislation to codify the Dornan Amendment that targets D.C. — especially since she doesn’t get to vote on the bill. 

“It insults the District of Columbia,” Norton said. 

Democrats noted that Republicans are taking steps to limit abortions after women’s marches in Washington and across the country took place the day after the inauguration. 

“I think the last two days basically indicates why you had a million-plus women march on Saturday,” said Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.).

Tags Lois Frankel Paul Ryan

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