Congress Bolsters President Trump’s Overseas Pro-Life Protections after Heated Debate

By | July 28, 2017

WASHINGTON DC, July 28 (C-Fam) In a contentious Congressional meeting that lasted until midnight last Wednesday, Democrats offered a series of hostile amendments in a futile attempt to roll-back President Donald Trump’s pro-life polices overseas.

The House Appropriations committee eventually passed the funding bill which provides $47.4 billion for overseas operations – $10 billion below 2017 yet $10 billion more than the budget request sent over by President Trump.

The bill was one of the most controversial pieces of legislation debated in the committee due to lawmaker dissatisfaction with the White House proposal to slash the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development by about 30 percent. Democrats known as staunch reproductive rights advocates objected to cuts to controversial UN agencies, family planning, and the inclusion of pro-life language codifying the reinstated and modernized Mexico City Policy.

“It is unconscionable to tie up $8.8 billion in global health assistance by inserting abortion politics,” said ranking member Nita Lowey (D-NY). Lowey proposed an amendment to eliminate pro-life language in a section titled “Limitations Related to Family Planning and Reproductive Health” that legislatively strengthens President Trump’s executive action expanding the Mexico City Policy to all global health assistance. Her amendment failed.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-D) proposed two hostile amendments, one to restore funding to all UN agencies including for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and UN-Women. The amendment failed. Both organizations are widely criticized for going beyond their mandate and supporting abortion as a method of family planning. President Trump issued an executive action stripping funding from UNFPA, determining the agency was complicit in China’s coercive family planning program. Lee’s second amendment attempted to restore funding to UNFPA and to increase funding for international family planning back to levels maintained under the Obama administration that also failed.

Debate on a Senate counterpart bill is not expected until after the August recess. Reproductive rights proponents are looking to Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH-D) to mitigate family planning and reproductive health losses by restoring funding as she has done in the past. The current make-up of the appropriations subcommittee makes it likely amendments offered by Shaheen will pass. This would then require party leadership to “conference” to reconcile the two bills.

It is likely that lawmakers will opt instead for a continuing resolution, given the approaching deadline of September 30 for the passage of all funding bills to avoid a government shutdown. Though a continuing resolution maintains funding at current levels, President Trump’s pro-life executive actions will preserve the funding prohibition to international NGOs that perform abortion and prevent UNFPA from being eligible.