Update: The U.S. Senate failed to invoke cloture on S. 109, No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2019 by a 48 to 47 vote on Thursday afternoon.

The vote was along partisan lines with U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) joining Democrats to vote against cloture. U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tennesee), Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), Michael Crapo (R-Idaho), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) did not vote. Sixty votes were required for cloture to be invoked.

Original (1/17/19): U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) join the Senate’s effort to end taxpayer funding of abortion. They, along with 37 additional Senators, co-sponsored S. 109, No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2019, the effort to pass the bill is led by U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), and James Lankford (R-Oklahoma).

The Senate measure would establish a permanent, government-wide prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion. Similar policies, such as the Hyde Amendment, currently require annual passage and do not apply to Obamacare.

This bill counters a funding bill H.R. 21, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019 that passed in the House earlier this month by a 241 to 190 vote. The House Democrats bill, sponsored by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-New York) repeals President Trump’s Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy, which stops U.S. taxpayer funding of the abortion industry overseas.

House Democrats have also vowed to repeal the Hyde Amendment, a longstanding federal policy that prevents taxpayer funding of abortion on demand.

“An Iowa boy born five short months after conception named Micah Pickering stands today as living proof that we can always do more to protect unborn children. For those of us who embrace the sanctity of life, using taxpayer dollars to fund and support abortion just isn’t right.  One way to fix that problem is to pass this bill and ensure that taxpayer money doesn’t go to funding abortions,” Grassley said in a released statement.

“Like millions of Americans, I do not believe our hard-earned tax dollars should ever be used to cover the costs of abortion procedures. For many, protecting the lives of the defenseless, the unborn, is a deeply moral and personal issue, and they should not be forced to pay for a practice they passionately object to and which violates their own beliefs,” Ernst stated.

S. 109, which is expected to have a procedural vote this week, also contains the following provisions:

  • Prohibits funding for health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion with funds authorized or appropriated by Federal law;
  • Prohibits abortion in federal health facilities (such as DOD and VA hospitals) and ensure that no federal employee provides abortion services in the course of their employment;
  • Makes permanent the provisions of the DC Hyde Amendment, or the Dornan Amendment, which clarifies that the federal provisions regarding abortion funding also apply to the government of the District of Columbia;
  • Ensures that elective abortion is not deductible for tax purposes by amending Section 213 of the Internal Revenue Code; and
  • Ensures that Affordable Care Act premium assistance subsidies provided in the form of refundable advanceable tax credits are not used to pay for health insurance plans that include abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother.

Pro-life leaders state that the Senate through this bill can be a firewall to the expansion of taxpayer funding of abortion.

“The Pelosi-led pro-abortion House has made clear they will try to force taxpayers to pay for abortions by repealing the Hyde Amendment,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “By voting on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, the pro-life majority in the Senate is showing they’ll be a brick wall when it comes to trying to force taxpayers to pay for abortion on demand.

“A strong majority of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion. The Hyde Amendment has saved over two million lives since 1976. If pro-abortion politicians had their way, these millions of Americans and future generations would not be walking around. We are grateful to Leader McConnell and the pro-life Senate majority for standing strong with the majority of Americans who reject taxpayer funding of abortion,” she added.

“This legislation from Senators Wicker and Roberts could not have come at a better time, as radical pro-abortion zealots in the House attempt to slip taxpayer funding of abortion into negotiations to reopen the government,” American Principles Project Executive Director Terry Schilling said.

Marist polling released on Tuesday reveals most Americans (54 percent) oppose taxpayer funding of abortion at home and 75 percent oppose using taxpayer dollars to fund abortion abroad, including 80 percent of Independents, 56 percent of Democrats, and 64 percent of people who call themselves pro-choice.

“It is insane that Democrats are trying to force such unpopular policies on the American people when so many federal workers are furloughed and want to see a real bipartisan solution to the shutdown,” Schilling added.

Schilling also notes that the Senate bill was offered right when pro-life activists will come to Washington, DC for the annual March for Life.

“This Friday, hundreds of thousands of people, including busloads of young people, will march through the streets of Washington to protest our nation’s radical abortion laws, to mourn the 60 million babies aborted since Roe v. Wade, and most importantly, to celebrate a culture of life. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act is an important first step to building such a culture, and we urge the Senate to pass this important legislation,” he said.

This bill also coincides with a letter led by Congressman Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) and U.S. Steve Daines (R-Montana) and signed by 169 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 49 members of the U.S. Senate that urged President Trump to veto bills that weaken existing pro-life policies, and indicating that they will vote to sustain such vetoes. 

“We appreciate that the Congress is drawing a bright line — that they would vote to sustain a veto on any appropriations bill, or any other bill, that would weaken existing laws against federal funding of abortion or weaken other pro-life policies,” Jennifer Popik, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, said. 

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