Fox News interviews Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) mainly about the repeal of ObamaCare yesterday, but also asks about the effort today to pass a legislative ban on federal funding of abortions. Noem handles the interview very impressively and says in both cases that Republicans in Congress intend to honor their campaign promises:
The bill itself appears to be a resurrection of the Stupak Amendment, at least from the CBS report today. The Stupak Amendment would have put into law the restrictions imposed annually by the passage of the Hyde Amendment with each budget, and would have forbidden the use of any federal funds for abortions in any context, and not just at HHS, as the Hyde Amendment specifically covers. Passage of this bill would take the issue off the table entirely at budget time.
Of course, Democrats claim that the bill is unnecessary:
Backers of abortion rights, including most Democrats, say the health care overhaul law already maintains the Hyde amendment ban on federal funding of abortions.
During the debate over the health care legislation last year, Rep. Bart Stupak led a block of anti-abortion rights House Democrats in refusing to support the bill. He ultimately backed the bill, however, after President Obama agreed to release an executive order backing up the existing ban.
Boehner and Smith said the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” would codify the Hyde amendment. They also said they supported a separate bill from Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) that would ban federal funding of any kind to organizations that perform abortions. Organizations are already barred from federal funding for abortions but Pence’s bill would deny them federal funding for other services as well.
If it was unnecessary, though, the EO would also have been superfluous. Planned Parenthood attacked the bill by saying that it would deny tax advantages for health insurance that includes abortion coverage — but that’s the point of the bill anyway. Federal subsidies for abortions are unpopular enough that Obama had to issue that EO in order to get the bill passed.
The ban will almost certainly stall in the Senate, and even if it didn’t, it’s hard to imagine that Obama will sign it into law — even with Democrats arguing that already is law. It will still serve notice, though, that the GOP wants this loophole closed for good.