House Dems object to abortion limits in Zika bill

House Dems object to abortion limits in Zika bill
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A group of Democrats is objecting to the House’s bill funding a response to the Zika virus in part because it continues restrictions on federal funding for abortions. 

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Democrats have already vowed to oppose the House GOP’s $622 million Zika funding bill because they say it provides far too little funding and takes needed funds away from Ebola efforts to offset the new spending. 

But Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), the co-chairs of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, as well as Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Barbara Lee (D-N.Y.), are adding abortion funding restrictions to the list of objections. 

The lawmakers object that the Zika funding bill includes the longstanding Hyde Amedment language, which bars federal funding from use on abortions, with a few exceptions. 

That language has long been included in spending bills. 

“By including Hyde language that denies access to abortions for women receiving Medicaid, women in the Peace Corps and military, federal workers and others, it continues discriminatory policies that deny women vital reproductive health care services based on their income, their insurance, and where they work,” the lawmakers said in a statement. 

The Senate’s compromise Zika funding measure, which also includes Hyde restrictions, advanced on Tuesday without abortion-related objections. 

House Republicans have noted that their bill includes the restrictions. 

“The legislation also reiterates existing, strong legislative protections against the use of funding for abortions,” House Appropriations Committee Republicans said in a press release announcing their bill. 

The Hyde Amendment flared up as a prominent issue on healthcare bills last year, including the bipartisan “doc fix” deal to reform Medicare payments. 

But in that situation, there were concerns that the language would be made permanent.

That is not a concern here, as the bill simply extends the same language that has long been applied to spending bills.