Senators, use your cancelled summer recess to pass pro-life bills

Senators, use your cancelled summer recess to pass pro-life bills
© Greg Nash

The longer Congress stays out of session this year the more likely harmful pro-abortion policies will remain in effect. For this reason, March for Life Action supports Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGrassley pressured to run as Democrats set sights on Iowa House Democrats grow frustrated as they feel ignored by Senate Democrats question GOP shift on vaccines MORE’s (R-Ky.) embrace of Senator Perdue’s (R-Ga.) call to cancel summer recess.

This Senate has gone out of its way to earn a “Do-Nothing Congress” label by only working an average of 2.5 days per week this Congress, and very few Fridays. The result is disastrous to the pro-life cause.


For example, more than 400 bills that have passed the House of Representatives are stalled in the Senate, including H.R. 7, “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act” (which passed the House in January 2017) and H.R. 4712, “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” (which passed the House in January 2018.) 


 “No Taxpayer” would codify protections to ensure that taxpayers disinvest from the abortion industry – an issue supported by at least 60 percent of Americans according to the most recent Marist-Knights of Columbus polling. “Born Alive” is less about abortion than it is a question of infanticide because it would protect infants who are delivered alive after a failed abortion procedure. While there is no polling on infanticide the Marist poll found that 75 percent of Americans would limit abortion to — at most — the first three months of pregnancy. Currently these bills lie dormant at the Senate desk — which could change if the Senate uses floor time during recess to hold votes.

Stand-alone bills are not the only place where Congressional inaction is damaging the pro-life cause.  It has been over twenty years since Congress has passed Appropriations bills using regular order.  This is important because within appropriations are numerous provisions, or “riders,” that protect the unborn. From the Dickey-Wicker amendment, which prohibits federal funding for destructive human embryo experimentation to the gold standard of pro-life riders, the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer funds within Medicare going to pay for abortions in most cases.

Because of the stagnancy in all of Congress, pro-life riders, most written in the last century, have not kept up with the 21st Century. For example, prior to 2002 Congress protected tax dollars from going to pay for abortions for immigration detainees. However, with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002, and the transfer of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to that agency, the protections were lost and now DHS has allowed for taxpayer-funded abortion. 

In addition, thanks to the passage of the abortion-promoting Obamacare in 2008 even the Hyde amendment is bypassed by the health care law, allowing tax dollars to directly pay for health care plans that provide abortions. For years, the House has been offering up solutions that fail every Congress due to the inability of both chambers to pass simple appropriations bills — which could change if the Senate uses floor time during recess to return to some sort of order on appropriations.

Lastly, one of Congress most important roles is confirming presidential judicial and executive nominations. But in large part due to Democrats historic obstruction, the Senate has failed miserably in this regard. 

This Senate has confirmed, as of March 2018, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerCould Andrew Cuomo — despite scandals — be re-elected because of Trump? Democratic negotiator: 'I believe we will' have infrastructure bill ready on Monday DACA court ruling puts weight of immigration reform on Democrats MORE’s (D-N.Y.) tactics leading to 102 fewer confirmations than the next closest administration. The Democrats are using every tactic in the book to slow down nominations — and Republicans, by effectively working only 2.5 days per week, are allowing it. The result is that important pro-life positions in the administration are left vacant of good judges, like the ones who recently recognized the constitutionality of a pro-life law in Arkansas. That decision had an immediate impact in saving lives in the state of Arkansas. The stagnation in confirming nominees could change if the Senate uses floor time during recess.

All of this is in the shadow of a contentious election — one where the Democrats, who are defending close to two dozen seats, are benefiting from the Senate’s lackadaisical schedule. Senator McConnell is right to cancel summer recess.

Tom McClusky is the president of March for Life Action.