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The stakes are sky-high for the pro-life cause in the upcoming midterms
This month, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (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.
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 Aderholt (R-Ala.), Tom Cole (R-Oka.), Kay Granger (R-Texas) and Tom Graves (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 Lowey (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 Trump'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 Chabot (R-Ohio) and Steve King (R-Iowa).
Both have a long history of pro-life advocacy. Their Democratic counterpart, Rep. Jerry Nadler (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 Smith (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 Engel (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 Waters (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.