The stakes are sky-high for the pro-life cause in the upcoming midterms

The stakes are sky-high for the pro-life cause in the upcoming midterms
© Greg Nash

This month, Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal McConnell blocks bill to reopen most of government Overnight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' MORE (D-Calif.) released a letter to the Democratic Caucus preparing them to become the Majority. A shift in party control would not only reinstate the pro-abortion Californian as Speaker of the House of Representatives. It means Pelosi’s liberal colleagues would gain control of the various committees.

While pro-lifers should worry about a potential Speaker Pelosi, the Democrats most likely to chair committees have built their careers on being hostile to protections for women and the unborn.

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Committee chairs have the greatest influence over the congressional agenda. 9,000 or so bills go to committee annually. Less than 10 percent of those bills make it to the floor. Of that 10 percent, only about 200 bills ever become law.

The committee which has perhaps the most impact when it comes to pro-life interests is Appropriations. Bills passed by the Appropriations Committee regulate expenditures of taxpayer money and therefore it is one of the most powerful committees. It oversees all pro-life provisions, commonly called riders, including the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits tax dollars from paying for abortions through Medicaid. 

There are several choices on the Republican side for the Appropriations Chair: Reps. Robert AderholtRobert Brown AderholtGranger to serve as ranking member of House Appropriations Committee Earmarks look to be making a comeback Race for Appropriations ranking member heats up MORE (R-Ala.), Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeBottom Line Dems hit GOP on health care with additional ObamaCare lawsuit vote Overnight Health Care: House files motion to defend ObamaCare in lawsuit | Trump Medicaid director leaving after three months MORE (R-Oka.), Kay GrangerNorvell (Kay) Kay GrangerBlack Caucus sees power grow with new Democratic majority The Year Ahead: Tough tests loom for Trump trade agenda Dem lawmaker pledges hearings after CIA briefing on Khashoggi MORE (R-Texas) and Tom GravesJohn (Tom) Thomas GravesGOP seeks to ram through Trump’s B wall demand Granger to serve as ranking member of House Appropriations Committee Pentagon cyber official warns U.S. companies against 'hacking back' MORE (R-Ga.). Of those four the only unacceptable red flag for pro-lifers is Rep. Granger’s past support for questionable human embryonic stem cell experimentation and reluctance to promote pro-life provisions in committee.

Meanwhile, the potential Democratic nominee, Rep. Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyHouse passes disaster relief bill to fund government through Feb. 8 On The Money: Shutdown Day 25 | Dems reject White House invite for talks | Leaders nix recess with no deal | McConnell blocks second House Dem funding bill | IRS workers called back for tax-filing season | Senate bucks Trump on Russia sanctions Latest funding bill to reopen the government fails in House MORE (D-N.Y.), is openly hostile to any restriction on taxpayer funding of abortion, including the Hyde amendment. And Lowey would use her position to overturn or obstruct President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build Trump Tower in Moscow during 2016 campaign: report DC train system losing 0k per day during government shutdown Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees MORE’s victories on the pro-life front, for example protecting life in global health policy and ethical Title X regulations.

For many stand-alone pro-life bills, the Judiciary Committee is the first stop. The partial birth abortion ban as well as the twenty-week abortion ban both began there.  On the Republican side, there are two strong pro-life candidates for chairman, Reps. Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump headed to border as shutdown hits Day 20 | Talks fall apart | Emergency plan could set up clash with GOP House passes resolution calling for release of Reuters journalists jailed in Myanmar This week: Lawmakers return to mourn George H.W. Bush MORE (R-Ohio) and Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingSteve King's primary challenger raises more than 0k in first 10 days of campaign GOP can't excommunicate King and ignore Trump playing to white supremacy and racism Iowa newspaper apologizes for endorsing Steve King, calls for resignation MORE (R-Iowa).

Both have a long history of pro-life advocacy. Their Democratic counterpart, Rep. Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerTop Dem: ‘I expect the president to lie to the American people’ in primetime address 2019 is going to be a tough year for Nancy Pelosi GOP rep says Dems will impeach Trump MORE (R-N.Y.), was the lead sponsor of the deceptively-named Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). That bill would result in overturning thousands of state laws that protect families and the unborn and potentially opens the door to prosecution of legislators who push the pro-life cause. 

The obvious choice for a Republican chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee should be Rep. Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithLatest funding bill to reopen the government fails in House On The Money: Trump says he won't declare emergency 'so fast' | Shutdown poised to become longest in history | Congress approves back pay for workers | More federal unions sue over shutdown Overnight Energy: House votes to reopen Interior, EPA | Dems question EPA over Wheeler confirmation prep | Virginia Dem backs Green New Deal MORE (R-N.J.). That committee oversees many American pro-life priorities overseas. Smith has a long track record of working on international issues and he is currently the most outspokenly pro-life Member of Congress. The likely Democratic chair would be Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOvernight Defense: Trump rejects Graham call to end shutdown | Coast Guard on track to miss Tuesday paychecks | Dems eye Trump, Russia probes | Trump talks with Erdogan after making threat to Turkey's economy Dems zero in on Trump and Russia Top Dem: Congress may have 'no choice' but to subpoena Trump interpreter MORE (D-N.Y.) — a cosponsor of the FOCA abortion legislation. Rep. Engel likewise has voiced opposition to the Helms amendment, which prohibits U.S.-funded health providers from performing abortions abroad.

The House Financial Services committee does not handle many pro-life issues, but when Democrats have gained control in the past they used legislation in the committee to silence grassroots advocates under the guise of “campaign finance reform.” The potential Democratic chair is pro-abortion Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersOn The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction Financial system can forge bipartisanship in Congress Ocasio-Cortez, freshmen poised to take on Wall Street MORE (D-Calif.), who has suggested the government takeover private companies and silencing those who disagree with her.

So from a pro-life perspective, everything depends upon who holds the gavels in Congress. Anyone who cares about protecting the unborn should vote this election because the consequences of losing would be disastrous.

Tom McClusky is the president of March for Life Action, a pro-life organization.