House passed it, but Senate is dead end
Since our last update, the House passed H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.
The bill would make permanent a prohibition on using federal dollars to pay for abortions. Since 1976, the federal government has been guided by the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger. The amendment means abortion services are not provided by Medicaid or in health care plans offered to federal employees and for active and retired military.
The Hyde amendment must be renewed every year, so H.R. 3 would put it permanently on the books. The House passed it 251-175 on May 4, 2011
However, the Senate has been a roadblock for this bill and several other promises the Republican leadership made on health care. The Senate version of H.R. 3 hasn't seen any action since May of 2011 and is highly unlikely to pass this year because of opposition from Democratic leaders.
In the unlikely event something changes, we'll revisit this promise. But for now we rate it a Promise Broken.
THOMAS, H.R. 3, No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, introduced Jan. 20, 2011
THOMAS, S. 906, No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, introduced May 5, 2011
PolitiFact, "Facebook post compares elements of Romneycare, Obamacare,” June 18, 2012
Email interview with Adam Jentleson, spokesman for Sen. Harry Reid, July 20, 2012
Bill is contentious, but is advancing through the House
During the 2010 campaign, House Republican leaders promised to codify "the Hyde Amendment so that it applies to all federal funding, whether those funds are appropriated by Congress or authorized by Congress."
First, some background. The Hyde amendment, named after the late Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill.,- has been passed as a "rider” to health appropriations bills since 1976. It bars the use of federal dollars, such as in Medicaid payments, to fund abortions, except in the cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother. The topic of federal funding for abortion reemerged in the debate over the Democratic health care plan, which passed in early 2010, with anti-abortion activists and lawmakers saying that the law did not provide enough protections against federal money being used to fund abortion.
On Jan. 20, 2011, Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J. -- one of the House"s leading opponents of abortion -- introduced H.R. 3, the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” According to a Congressional Research Service summary of the bill, it would, among other things, prohibit "the expenditure of funds authorized or appropriated by federal law or funds in any trust fund to which funds are authorized or appropriated by federal law ... for any abortion,” except for the same exceptions allowed by the Hyde Amendment.
The bill attracted controversy for several reasons, initially for its use of the term "forcible rape." Critics said this went well beyond the restrictions set out by the Hyde Amendment, and the bill"s backers stripped the "forcible rape” language from the bill.
When we checked in THOMAS, Congress" legislative website, on March 25, 2011, we found that the bill had already secured 221 co-sponsors -- enough to secure approval in the House once it"s taken up. However, the bill is still in committee. The House Judiciary Committee signed off on it on a 23-14 vote, but the House Ways and Means Committee has asked for more time to consider it. If approved by the House, it has to go to the Senate, and if adopted there, it has to be reconciled between both chambers before moving to the president"s desk.
In other words, there"s still a long way to go before H.R. 3 becomes law -- and the debate is sure to be contentious at every stop. However, a bill has been introduced, has passed a major House committee and has secured a large number of co-sponsors. This is enough for us to rate it In the Works.
Text of H.R. 3, the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”
The Hill, "House Judiciary OKs bill denying federal funds for abortion,” March 3, 2011
PolitiFact, "Abortions in Pennsylvania paid for with federal dollars? Not so.” July 16, 2010
National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, "The Hyde Amendment,” accessed March 25, 2011
E-mail interview with Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, Mar. 25, 2011