Democrats scuttle attempt to strike Hyde Amendment from spending bill

Democrats scuttle attempt to strike Hyde Amendment from spending bill
© Getty

The House Rules Committee on Monday quashed an effort to strike the Hyde Amendment, a 40-year-old ban on federal funding for abortions, from a government spending bill.

The amendment offered by Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleySanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire Booker unveils legislation for federal bill to ban discrimination against natural hair House approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump MORE (D-Mass.) and other progressive Democrats was not included in a list of amendments that will receive votes on the House floor.

ADVERTISEMENT

Pressley's amendment would have removed the Hyde Amendment from the Department of Health and Human Services funding bill and ensured coverage for abortions in public health programs like Medicaid. 

The amendment would authorize new policies, a violation of House rules for spending bills. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Trump supporters at Pa. rally 'upset' after Democrats introduce impeachment articles California GOP candidate arrested on stalking charges MORE (D-Calif.) could waive the rules, but such an occurrence is rare. 

A spending bill that doesn't include the Hyde Amendment is also unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate or be signed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech MORE.

"Let me be clear on the Hyde Amendment: I would repeal it tomorrow," said Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkThe Hill's Morning Report - Fallout from day one of Trump impeachment hearing 'Squad' members recruit Raskin to run for Oversight gavel House passes third bill aimed at preventing foreign election interference MORE (Mass.), vice chairwoman of the House Democratic Caucus.

But repealing it "would become a focal point that could collapse everything in the Labor-H bill that is so good for American families."

Pelosi said during an event Tuesday that while she doesn't support the Hyde Amendment, "It is the law of the land right now, and I don't see that there's an opportunity to get rid of it with the current occupant of the White House and this U.S. Senate." 

The effort was likely intended as a statement to appease abortion rights advocates who want to end the amendment. 

"The amendment put forward by Congresswoman Pressley affirms the reproductive rights of all Americans," said Lina Francis, Pressley's communications director.

"As a response to the coordinated attacks on abortion rights and Roe v. Wade, the Congresswoman believes that she and her colleagues must use every tool and tactic available to fight for reproductive justice," she said.

The Hyde Amendment received a newfound focus from progressives last week when 2020 presidential hopeful former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Trump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Trump supporters at Pa. rally 'upset' after Democrats introduce impeachment articles MORE, who voted for the amendment when he was a senator, said that he still supported the measure.

After significant criticism from Democratic politicians and activists, Biden later reversed his stance, saying he could “no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone's ZIP code."