Story at a glance
- Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs was one of 40 Republicans to vote against the coronavirus relief bill passed by the House on March 14.
- Rep. Biggs disagreed with the bill’s definition of a 'committed relationship' and falsely claimed it would provide funding for abortions.
- The bill’s definition of committed relationships includes same-sex couples who have been granted legal recognition under a civil union or domestic partnership.
Forty Republicans voted against the coronavirus relief bill passed by the House on March 14, which provided for paid medical leave, free COVID–19 testing and increased unemployment insurance.
Rep. Andy Biggs was one of them. On a radio program produced by the Family Research Council (FRC), he said, “Two provisions that have nothing to do with the coronavirus are basically thrown into this thing and that’s just par for the course for the left.”
One of the provisions Biggs mentioned was the bill’s definition of a committed relationship under the provision for paid sick days.
“They’ve redefined family for the first time in a piece of federal legislation to include committed relationships and the problem with that of course is it’s really hard to define a committed relationship,” Biggs said.
The bill defines committed relationships as a relationship between two individuals 18 or older in which they share responsibility for their common welfare as the other's sole domestic partner. The definition goes on to clarify that it includes individuals of the same sex whose relationship is granted legal recognition as a civil union or domestic partnership. "Child," meanwhile, was defined as any "biological, foster, or adopted child, a stepchild, a child of a domestic partner, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis."
Biggs, who is a former policy adviser to a religious group labeled as an anti-gay "hate group"by the Southern Poverty Law Center, called the provision “anti-family.” According to Vice, Biggs has said that gay marriage "is an affront to the millions of Americans who believe marriage is between a man and a woman."
Another criticism from Biggs and other Republicans is that the bill does not include the Hyde Amendment, a budgetary rider that prohibits the federal government from covering the costs of abortions except in very rare cases.
“They put in a billion dollars that wasn’t subject to the Hyde amendment which means you could spend up to a billion dollars effectively on state-sponsored abortions, state-funded abortions,” Biggs said on Fox News.
The money Biggs is referring to is intended for the reimbursement of laboratory claims. However, on March 12, House Democrats submitted a "manager's amendment" saying those funds could only be used for "uninsured individuals not eligible for other COVID-19 testing and services assistance included in the bill."
Facebook flagged a story claiming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sought to include abortion funding in the bill as false, and PolitiFact said in a fact check that the headline was not true.
The bill has since been changed so paid family and medical leave is only allocated to parents whose minor children’s care facilities or schools are shut down due to the virus. The second version passed March 16 also clarified several tax credit provisions. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the Senate will pass the House's second coronavirus funding package without changes.