Democratic leaders ‘unlikely’ to allow vote on reversing Hyde Amendment

House Democratic leaders are unlikely to allow a floor vote on a measure that would lift a ban on federal funding for abortions, dealing a major blow to progressive lawmakers who want to strip the Hyde Amendment from an upcoming spending bill.

The proposed amendmentoffered by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and other progressive Democrats, would “ensure” coverage for abortions in federally funded health programs, including Medicaid, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

{mosads}But the amendment is unlikely to receive a vote on the House floor because it would stand little to no chance of becoming law, according to a senior Democratic aide.

“The appropriators have been working with outside groups to keep expectations in check given the fact that we have a [Republican] Senate and a [Republican] president,” the aide told The Hill on Monday. 

“This amendment is unlikely to be made in order.”

The House is expected to vote on the annual spending bill for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this week, and the House Rules Committee will soon determine which amendments to put on the floor.

Pressley’s amendment also includes language that violates House rules for spending bills because it deals with authorizing new policies, meaning the Rules Committee could rule it out of order.

While many congressional Democrats oppose the Hyde Amendment, its provisions were still included in the Labor-HHS funding bill advanced at the committee level last month.

A spokesman for House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said while she opposes the Hyde Amendment, she recognizes that Republicans in the Senate are unlikely to approve a spending bill that doesn’t include it.

“Given Republican control of the White House and the Senate, the Appropriations Committee has tried to minimize the number of controversial policy changes that might imperil timely passage of appropriations bills and risk a government shutdown,” said Evan Hollander, communications director for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee.

Kalina Francis, a spokeswoman for Pressley, said in a statement to The Hill that “the Congresswomen will reassess next steps once we see how the amendment moves through Rules.”

Many Democrats argue that the decades-old ban disproportionately impacts low-income women who rely on Medicaid for health care.

Both Democrats and Republicans have supported the Hyde amendment in annual government spending bills, but vocal opponents have upped the pressure in recent years to lift the ban.

Support for ending the ban has become a litmus test for 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

Former Vice President Joe Biden last week made headlines when he ended his 40-year support for the Hyde Amendment. His campaign had said earlier in the week that Biden still supported the ban, drawing swift backlash from abortion rights groups and other Democrats.

Even with the Hyde amendment in the spending bill, other abortion-related provisions are likely to face opposition from Senate Republicans.

The measure would block the Trump administration from implementing changes to the Title X family planning grant program, which funds reproductive health services for low-income women.

The changes, which have been temporarily blocked in court, would prevent providers from referring women for abortions. They also would also stop clinics that provide abortions from receiving the grants, even though funding isn’t used for the procedure.

Additionally, the measure would roll back the Trump administration’s ban on global aid for foreign organizations that promote or provide abortions.

Updated at 4:38 p.m.

Tags Abortion Ayanna Pressley Government shutdown Hyde Amendment Joe Biden Nita Lowey
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