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 PressleyOvernight Defense: Pentagon memo warns pandemic could go until summer 2021 | Watchdog finds Taliban violence is high despite US deal | Progressive Dems demand defense cuts Progressives demand defense budget cuts amid coronavirus pandemic The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The American Investment Council - Trump takes his 'ready to reopen' mantra on the road 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 PelosiBottom line This week: Surveillance fight sets early test for House's proxy voting Women suffering steeper job losses in COVID-19 economy 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 TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE.

"Let me be clear on the Hyde Amendment: I would repeal it tomorrow," said Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkPelosi scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid Democrat says House vote on trillion aid deal could fall to Friday MA lawmakers press HHS secretary on status of state's protective equipment 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 BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Americans debate life under COVID-19 risks Biden set to make risky economic argument against Trump Hillicon Valley: Tech companies lead way on WFH forever | States and counties plead for cybersecurity assistance | Trump weighing anti-conservative bias panel 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."