Thursday, July 9, 2020

State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Mark-up

Today the House Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2021 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill by a vote of 29-21 along party lines.

Longstanding Pro-Life Language Retained:
  • Helms Abortion Funding Ban: Prevents foreign aid from being spent for abortion.
  • Tiahrt Voluntary Family Planning Provision: Ensures that population control funds are only used in programs which are certified to be voluntary in every respect.
  • Siljander Amendment: Prevents federal funding from being used to lobby for or against abortion.
  • Peace Corps Abortion Funding Ban: Prohibition on abortion funding in the Peace Corps.

Problematic Language:
  • The bill weakens the Kemp-Kasten Amendment. Added in 1985, the Kemp-Kasten Amendment restricts funds from organizations that the President determines support or participates in a coercive abortion program. President Trump has used the amendment to redirect funding away from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) due to the organization’s support of and participation in the management of China’s birth limitation policy.
  • The bill undermines the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy (PLGHA). Implemented by President Trump in January 2017, PLGHA requires foreign nongovernmental organizations to agree, as a condition of their receipt of US grant money, not to promote or perform abortion. The FY 2021 bill prohibits funding from being used to implement PLGHA and prevents it from being reinstated.
  • The bill appropriates $55.5 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).  This is $23 million more than the $32.5 million provided by the FY 2020 appropriations bill.  Note that, for FY 2020, the State Department’s Kemp-Kasten determination required those funds to be redirected to other maternal and reproductive health activities. UNFPA should not receive US support as long as it continues to support and participate in the Chinese population control program.
  • The bill appropriates not less than $750 million for family planning/reproductive health programs. This is $175 million more than the $575 million provided in the FY 2020 appropriations bill. Even when PLGHA is in place, this account can be a funding stream for domestically-based organizations that also promote and may even perform abortion.
  • The bill alters the longstanding HIV-Notwithstanding Provision, allowing more funding for contraception.


Subcommittee Ranking Member Hal Rogers (R-KY) offered an amendment to restore many of the pro-life provisions undermined in the bill draft. According to Rep. Rogers, this amendment would:
  • Strike two provisions in the bill that eliminate the language attacking PLGHA.
  • Strike the requirement to provide $55.5 million to the UNFPA and prohibit funding from going to that organization.
  • Strike the requirement to spend not less than $750 million on international family planning programs.
  • Strike language added that weakens the longstanding Kemp-Kasten Amendment on coercive abortion.
  • Retain language on the authorities carried for global health agreed upon in current law
The following Members spoke in support of the pro-life Rogers Amendment:
  • Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX) summarized the pro-life concerns in the bill and said, “I can’t agree to reverse the important policies put forth by this Administration to protect life.”
  • Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) noted: “President Trump has made his intention very clear. [In his 2019 letter to Speaker Pelosi, the President wrote], ‘I will veto any legislation that weakens current pro-life Federal policies and laws…’”
  • Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) pushed back against statements in support of UNFPA, saying, “This is not about family planning.  There are many international agencies that provide contraception. They can receive funding.  UNFPA promotes abortion, both implicitly and explicitly.”  Rep. Harris’s remarks may be viewed on Facebook and Twitter.
The Rogers Amendment failed along party lines by a vote of 21-29.

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