Can White House and GOP Senators Protect Pro-Life Policy?

By | August 16, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC, August 16 (C-Fam) Before lawmakers left Washington for the August recess, they passed a major budget bill increasing the federal budget and lifting the debt ceiling for two years. In exchange, Democrat leadership assured the White House that no new partisan policy riders, including abortion, would be added to appropriation bills negotiated in the Fall. Now, pro-life lawmakers and the White House just have to hold them to it.

Democrat lawmakers attacked President Trump’s pro-life policies from their inception and have stepped up the complaints as the national election draws closer. The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed fiscal year 2020 spending bills containing pro-abortion riders also known as “poison pills” that would gut all White House pro-life policy including the expanded Mexico City Policy and the defunding of the United Nations Population Fund.

According to the budget agreement controversial riders will be prevented from making their way into the spending bills to be negotiated in September. Though not specific to abortion the agreement reads “there will be no poison pills, additional new riders, additional CHIMPS, or other changes in policy or conventions that allow for higher spending levels, or any non-appropriations measures unless agreed to on a bipartisan basis by the four leaders with the approval of the President.”

Remarks by House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), however, raised concerns that Democrats might renege if Republicans didn’t oversee the agreement throughout the appropriation process. In a letter to her appropriation colleagues Lowey wrote that members can “negotiate riders” during “committee consideration, floor debate and conference.” “Just as we do every other year,” she wrote, “we will need bipartisan support to enact any changes in FY 2020 and FY 2021.”

Pro-life advocates told the Friday Fax that Lowey’s remarks should raise significant concern with White House and conservative Senate Republicans. In previous years the narrow Republican majority Senate could not ward off pro-abortion assaults due to Republican Senators Collins and Murkowski supporting hostile Democrat amendments.

In a letter to President Trump, Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), founder of the U.S. Senate Pro-Life Caucus and 26 of his Republican colleagues thanked the President for prioritizing pro-life policies in budget negotiations.

“As members of the pro-life majority in the United States Senate, we will join you in rejecting any poison pills, additional new riders…or other changes in policy or conventions that allow for higher spending levels , or any non-appropriation measures that would undermine Federal pro-life policy in violation of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement for fiscal years 2020 and 2021.”

The letter outlines specific “anti-life poison pill riders” in the House-passed appropriation bills and pledges to take the necessary steps to keep them from being inserted into the Senate spending bills.

Earlier this year as House Democrats began drafting appropriation bills President Trump sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi warning that he would veto any legislation that compromised or eliminated pro-life policies.

The $2.7 trillion budget agreement, which was negotiated by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Speaker Pelosi, is said to avoid a debt default and to raise spending levels by $320B. While all parties wanted to avert a government shutdown, Republicans were divided on supporting the Budget bill due to its significant increase in domestic spending and concern for a growing U.S. deficit, reported this month to be $22T.