W. James Antle, III today at The American Spectator wrote that while President Obama and the Democratic Congress have avoided high-profile fights on contentious social issues like the Freedom of Choice Act, and gays in the military it doesn’t mean they are not moving quietly behind the scenes.
Most notably in appropriations bills, and the Hyde Amendment in particular may be in danger.
Now beleaguered pro-life members of Congress are gearing up for another fight. They worry that during the upcoming spending marathon, language preventing taxpayer funding of abortion may be deleted from appropriations bills in committee. Worse, they fear that a circumscribed amendment process will keep them from putting the gutted pro-life riders back in before final passage.
The biggest item that may be in jeopardy is the Hyde Amendment. Enacted under a Democratic Congress in 1976 and repeatedly renewed under presidents of both parties, it prohibits Medicaid funding of elective abortions. Advocates on both sides of the issue believe it has prevented numerous abortions, and the underlying policy has the support of many voters who consider themselves pro-choice. Also at issue are riders blocking taxpayer funding of human embryo experimentation and conscience clauses for medical professionals who do not wish to participate in abortions.
On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of legislators — three Republicans and three Democrats — held a press conference on Capitol Hill to announce that over 180 House members from both parties had signed a letter demanding that these pro-life policies either be left intact or subject to a direct vote by the full House. “We respectfully request that the pro-life riders be included in any legislation reported out of the Appropriations Committee,” the members wrote to the House leadership. “If this Congress intends to rescind these riders, at a minimum the American people deserve a full debate with an up-or-down vote.”
At the very least Democrats should be willing to debate these policies and allow a full vote. That way we as voters know where each of the members of the House stand on such issues. Wouldn’t this be the transparency that Democrats say they want to have?