House Legislative Update for June 27, 2014

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This week, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) worked diligently on the Hill to reach out to Appropriations Committee members to encourage them to attend the mark-ups and defend our pro-life provisions. We had great response to our outreach.

State Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill:  This bill has many longstanding pro-life policies, as well as pro-life policy provisions that are not in current law.

The ones that are no longer law that we are working to restore: 1) cutting off funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and 2) applying the Mexico City Policy to family planning and population funding.  UNFPA provides support and participates in the management of China’s coerced abortion and sterilization policies.  Since Obama has become president, $150 million has gone to UNFPA.  The Mexico City Policy creates a bright line of separation between abortion and family planning by ensuring that Non-Governmental Organizations do not promote or perform abortions.  This policy was in effect under President Bush and rescinded by President Obama.

We also supported the effort to cap international family planning funding at $461 million instead of the current appropriations which provides for a minimum of $575 million.

The Democrats offered three hostile amendments to our pro-life provisions that were defeated.  Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut) offered an amendment to fund UNFPA in countries other than China. The DeLauro amendment failed 20-26.  Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida) offered an amendment to strike the cap on international family planning funding which failed 20-26.  Finally, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California) offered an amendment, which failed 19-26, to strike the Mexico City Policy altogether.

Unfortunately, an amendment offered by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-New York) was accepted by the Committee by voice vote.  This amendment grants women volunteering in the Peace Corps extended abortion coverage in cases of rape, incest, or when the health of the mother is at risk.

Financial Services Appropriations Bill: This week, the Appropriations Committee passed the Financial Services bill. This bill contains the longstanding Dornan amendment that prohibits abortion-on-demand for the District of Columbia residents.  Rep. Lowey offered an amendment to strike all of the pro-life riders in the bill, including the Dornan amendment. Her amendment failed 21-27 along party lines.  Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Illinois) offered an amendment that would specifically gut the Dornan amendment; it also failed.  The Financial Services bill also included the Smith Amendment which prohibits funding abortion coverage through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program.  This longstanding pro-life provision conflicts with the implementation of ObamaCare which requires Members of Congress and their staffs to enroll in health care plans offered on the D.C. Exchange.  However, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Maryland) offered an amendment, which was adopted, to prohibit abortion coverage in the multistate plan program that was created by ObamaCare.  This amendment was previously offered by Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Mississippi) who was absent due to illness.  Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska), Martha Roby (R-Alabama), and Chris Stewart (R-Utah) all spoke in favor of the Harris amendment.  Finally, this bill also included the conscience protections.