Democrats lose fight to strip abortion funding restrictions from spending package

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
Sunlight shines on the U.S. Capitol dome on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022.

Democrats failed in their effort to strip a decades-old amendment from annual government funding legislation that blocks people from using Medicaid or other federal health programs to cover abortion services amid fierce opposition from Republicans.

Senate Democrats previously omitted the provision, also known as the Hyde amendment, from legislation to fund the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education departments last year. It marked the first time in decades that Senate Democrats removed the amendment from their annual government appropriations bills.

However, the amendment has since been included in the latest text for a government spending omnibus package for fiscal 2022 that was unveiled by Senate appropriators early Wednesday. The bipartisan deal comes after lawmakers struggled for months to reach agreement on both sides of the aisle over issues like parity between defense and nondefense spending and legacy riders like the Hyde amendment.

Republican appropriators said on Wednesday that the omnibus legislation will also include the Weldon amendment, a rider Democrats also previously sought to drop that bars entities that don’t want to provide abortion care from being denied federal dollars.

The Hyde amendment prohibits use of federal funds for abortions in most cases. The rider has been included in annual appropriations bills since it was introduced by then-Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) in the 1970s.

The amendment was left out of President Biden’s budget last year. Biden previously supported the Hyde amendment but publicly changed his stance after drawing criticism during his presidential campaign.

While proponents of the policy say it’s necessary to keep taxpayer dollars from going to abortion, critics have panned it as discriminatory against low-income women who depend on federal funding for health care.

Advocates and Democrats have also said it puts a disproportionate burden on women of color.

Tags Abortion government funding Hyde Amendment Joe Biden omnibus spending package

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