Monday, July 13, 2020

Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Mark-Up

In a full committee mark-up today, the House Committee on Appropriations passed the FY2021 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) appropriations bill by a vote of 30 to 22.

Summary of Longstanding Pro-Life Language Retained:
  • Hyde Amendment: Prohibits federal funding of abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother.
  • Hyde-Weldon Amendment: Prevents HHS funding recipients from discriminating against health care entities because they refuse to provide, pay for, or refer for abortion.
  • Dickey-Wicker Amendment: Prevents federal funding of harmful human embryo research.
  • Abuse Reporting: Requires Title X grantees to comply with state reporting laws on child abuse, child molestation, sexual abuse, rape, or incest.
  • Medicare Advantage Conscience Protection: Ensures that health care entities in Medicare Advantage will not be discriminated against in state and federal programs if they refuse to provide abortions.

The bill also contains anti-life provisions including language eliminating the Title X (Protect Life) Rule, the Conscience Rule, and the Section 1557 Rule.

Summary of Problematic Language:
  • Title X (Protect Life) Rule: On February 22, 2019, The Department of Health and Human Services released the final rule for the Title X family planning program, also known as the Protect Life Rule. Under the former regulations, Title X was a slush fund for abortion providers. (Planned Parenthood received nearly $60 million in Title X funds annually.) The FY21 draft bill requires the Title X family planning program to be administered as it was during the Obama Administration, and it requires funding to be returned to groups that lost it under the Protecting Life Rule. It also requires Title X grantees to provide information about abortion to every patient with a positive pregnancy test.
  • Conscience Protection Rule: On May 21, 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services published a final rule (84 FR 23170) that would enforce approximately 25 existing statutory civil rights protections for Americans involved in programs that receive HHS funding. Such laws protect health care providers from suffering discrimination if they do not want to participate in abortion, sterilization, or assisted suicide. This bill overturns the Conscience Protection Rule.
  • Section 1557 Rule: On June 19, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services published in the federal register a rule amending Obama-era regulations related to Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Among other things, the rule clarifies that Section 1557 shall not force health care entities receiving federal funding to provide or pay for an abortion. It shall also be consistent with the First Amendment and with pro-life provisions, conscience provisions and religious liberty protections in current law. This bill overturns the Section 1557 Rule.
  • Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Funding: TPP is funded at $101 million (consistent with FY20 funding levels.) It has been a funding stream for Planned Parenthood. Its programs have been ineffective at reducing teen pregnancy, STDs, and risky behavior, and its curricula may actively support abortion and undermine parental involvement. New language is added to prevent grantees wishing to teach sexual abstinence.
  • Sexual Risk Avoidance Funding: Sexual risk avoidance, defined as “voluntarily refraining from non-marital sexual activities,” received $25 million in the FY20. All funding is cut in the current bill.
LHHS Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK) offered an amendment to restore many of the pro-life provisions undermined in the FY21 LHHS bill draft. Members spoke in support of the pro-life Cole Amendment:
  • Appropriations Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX) said: “I can’t agree to reverse the important policies put forth by this Administration to protect life and religious beliefs.”
  • Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) said: “We know that President Trump has issued a veto threat against any legislation that weakens current pro-life federal policies and laws or that encourages the destruction of innocent human life at any stage, and this bill certainly does that.”
The pro-life Cole Amendment was defeated by a vote of 22 to 30.

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