Saturday, November 16, 2019

Congressional Outlook

Committee Activity

2 Abortion-related hearings last week:

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing entitled, “Examining State Efforts to Undermine Access to Reproductive Health Care.” According to a memo from the Majority staff, the hearing was intended to focus on how state policies “restrict comprehensive health services” and it noted that “Missouri remains at risk of becoming the first state in the country without a single abortion provider.” Allie Stuckey testified as the sole minority witness. Several Member interactions were recorded.

The House Committee on Judiciary marked up H.J.Res. 79, Removing the deadline for the ratification of the so-called Equal Rights Amendment. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) states, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Republican Members of the committee emphasized that the mark-up was meaningless because the Equal Rights Amendment has expired.  They pointed out that it was not ratified by 38 states (as required by the Constitution) before its ratification deadline. Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-GA) said that proponents of the ERA “only have one constitutional option.” This is “to start the whole process over and make your case to the current voters nationwide.” Proponents must “obtain the required two-thirds vote in each of the Houses of Congress and then win ratification…from 38 states.” In addition to the process objections, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) warned that the ERA should not become part of the Constitution for a number of reasons.  At the top of our list of concerns…,” he said, is that “the Hyde amendment would be greatly jeopardized by the ERA” and “the people’s right to protect the unborn would be eliminated.” Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) quoted Susan B. Anthony List in saying, “the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as proposed in 1972 and as interpreted to date by a wide range of legal scholars, by several lower courts, and even by certain advocates of the amendment, would install a legal mandate for abortion on demand, funded with taxpayer dollars, into our Constitution.” The history of the amendment shows that abortion would become constitutionally protected, even if Roe v. Wade were overturned. Removing the deadline for the ratification of the so-called Equal Rights Amendment would allow Virginia to be the final state to ratify the amendment.


Floor Outlook

House vote on Pelosi drug pricing plan slips to December

House to take up voting rights, government funding this month

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