Dems Push USAID Administrator to Recoup Funds for International Abortion Groups
WASHINGTON DC, May 4 (C-Fam) Abortion proponents in the U.S. Congress, who were rattled by the Trump administration’s pro-life stand at recent UN negotiations, grilled the top U.S. aid administrator last week and attempted to obstruct the policy using procedural rules.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, and Congresswomen Nita Lowey and Barbara Lee tried to challenge the implementation of Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA) policy by making procedural claims that PLGHA is a “rule” and as such is subject to the Congressional Review Act. The Government Accounting Office rejected the claim this week, stipulating that President Trump’s reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy was an executive action by previous presidents and “Federal courts have held that agencies’ implementation of presidential policy-making does not constitute a rule.”
Last week, the same Members of Congress took USAID administrator Mark Green to task when he appeared before Senate and House committees explaining the processes for a leaner budget for development and diplomacy and defending President Trump’s overseas pro-life policies.
In opening remarks Administrator Green said the $16.8 billion request represents $1.3 billion more than last year, including $1 billion for humanitarian assistance. Green acknowledged it will not provide enough resources to meet every humanitarian need but “attempts to balance fiscal needs at home with our leadership role on the world stage.”
“Everything we are trying to do is to work with country partners on their journey to self-reliance – these countries one day should lead their own development,” Green said.
Senate Appropriations subcommittee ranking member Patrick Leahy asked Green to comment on reports that a senior USAID advisor made the comment that the US is a “pro-life nation.” Leahy asked if family planning was being cut by 50% based on this statement.
Shaheen continued Leahy’s query and disparaged a second Trump political appointee, Valerie Huber, who oversees family planning funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Shaheen seemed unfamiliar with the sexual risk avoidance curriculum for adolescents being promoted through HHS even as she opposed it. She quoted Planned Parenthood statistics on the importance of family planning funding, concluding that this is “pro-life” policy.
Shaheen is largely responsible for restoring FY’18 family planning funding to Obama levels of over $600 million, offering a hostile amendment, and she introduced legislation to permanently repeal the Mexico City Policy.
Green responded to the senators that the administration supports voluntary family planning with the implementation of PLGHA and that other donors are providing funding for family planning as well.
In the House Appropriations subcommittee, ranking member Lowey and Congresswoman Lee questioned Green on the President’s decisions to expand the Mexico City policy and withhold funding to the UNFPA by invoking the Kemp-Kasten amendment.
Lowey asked Green to explain the process the agency underwent before the reimplementation of the “global gag rule” and to respond to reports that the 6-month review of PLGHA indicated “mass confusion” and “service delivery inefficiencies.” Lee said it was a shame the U.S. was withholding $68 million from UNFPA. UNFPA receives over $1 billion in annual funding, though the Congresswoman said the agency was “scrambling for resources.”
Green responded that before PLGHA implementation 5,300 consultations with partners were conducted. He reported the 6-month review showed compliance with all organizations coming under review except for 4 primes and 12 sub-primes, and this funding has been shifted to others working in the area. The funding withheld from UNFPA will be directed specifically to maternal health programs.