In post-Roe era, House Republicans begin silent push for new restrictions on abortion access

WASHINGTON (AP) — When the Supreme Court issued its abortion decision last June overturning Roe v. Wade, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, said “our work is far from done.” He didn’t say what might happen next.

A year later, McCarthy is the speaker, the Republicans are in the majority and the whites are beginning to be satisfied.

In a flurry of little-noticed legislative actions, GOP lawmakers are pushing for abortion policy changes, trying to build on the work of activists whose strategy has succeeded in elevating their fight to the highest court from the country.

In one government funding bill after another, Republicans are inserting unrelated policy provisions, known as endorsements, to restrict women’s reproductive rights. Democrats say the proposals will never become law.

“This is not just an attack on women’s health,” Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the House Appropriations Committee’s top Democrat, said Friday. “I view this as an attempt to derail the entire funding process from the federal government by injecting these riders into the appropriations process.”

Rep. Kay Granger, the Republican from Texas who leads the committee, told a hearing last week that the included runners continue “longstanding pro-life protections that are important on our side of the aisle.”

Using budget bills in this way isn’t new, but it does point to a wider rift among Republicans about what to do next on abortion after the Supreme Court ruling paved the way for state-by-state restrictions on the right to abortion.

For years, Republicans have held standalone votes in the House on bills aimed at restricting abortion. Now, some party members — particularly the nearly 20 Republicans running for re-election in swing districts — are hesitant, if not outright opposed, to issuing calls for abortion proposals. They say such bills will never see the light of day as long as Democrats control the Senate.

The GOP’s new push is unfolding line by line in the sprawling legislation drafted each year to fund government agencies and programs.

Nearly a dozen anti-abortion measures have been included in finance bills so far. In agriculture, for example, Republicans are seeking to overturn a recent Food and Drug Administration ruling that would allow the birth control pill mifepristone to be dispensed at certified pharmacies, not just hospitals and clinics.

Anti-abortion proposals have found their way into the defense bill, where GOP lawmakers seek to ban paid leave and travel for military service members and their family members seeking health services. reproductive. Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he tipped Defense Secretary Llyod Austin about it.

“I told them it was going to be a poison pill when it came to getting their legislation passed here,” Rogers, R-Ala., said last week. “I told him, you know, you’re looking for trouble. And now they’re in trouble.

There are also jumpers in the financial services bill, where Republicans want to prohibit local and federal money from being used to enforce a District of Columbia law that prohibits discrimination on employee reproductive decisions.

“It seems like they can’t do anything without trying to put something in there to restrict abortion rights,” said Washington state Rep. Suzan DelBene, chairwoman of the Democratic campaign arm of Washington. bedroom. “I don’t think the public is fooled by this and absolutely it will be a critical issue in the next election.”

She and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are working to target vulnerable Republicans on the issue ahead of the 2024 election.

Republicans’ broad effort to include what critics often call “poison pills” in the appropriations process escalates the showdown with Senate Democrats and the White House in September over spending bills, increasing potentially the chances of a government shutdown with October 1st. start of the new fiscal year.

DeLauro, who headed the Appropriations Committee in the last Congress, said Republicans’ decision to include the measures is a betrayal of the parties’ agreement years ago not to include provisions in the bills. spending bills that would block passage.

She said Democrats on the committee who have spent the past week drafting these bills late into the night have pleaded with fellow Republicans to rethink the language of abortion.

Last week, the Senate passed the military and agriculture bills without any abortion measures.

Senator Patty Murray, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told The Associated Press that she had made it clear that she would be a “firewall” against efforts by House Republicans to further restrict rights reproductive.

“I’ve fought Republican efforts to restrict access to reproductive health care and abortion in every deal or negotiation I’ve been involved in since coming to the Senate — that’s not going to change anytime soon,” he said. said Murray, D-Wash.

In an earlier statement with the committee’s top Republican, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, the two pledged “to continue to work together in a bipartisan manner to craft serious funding bills that can be passed into law.”

But growing tension between GOP factions over abortion legislation remains apparent.

The Republican Study Committee — the largest group in the House GOP conference — recently issued a memo to members urging leaders to vote on a proposal that “would clarify that health insurance plans that provide for elective abortion would not be not eligible for federal funding.

This bill would effectively codify the Hyde Amendment, which limits government funding for most abortions. Democrats allowed it to be part of government funding legislation for decades, as a sort of compromise that allowed them to focus on securing other priorities.

It’s unclear whether House Republican leaders will want to risk offering anti-abortion measures for votes when the spending bill route might be a more palatable option for some party members.

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