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Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Will Congress Stop Federal Funding for Abortion?
Important article out of LifeSite News
According to a report in The Hill, an abortion-related conscience protection provision in the version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed by the House last month may be not be allowed to stay in the bill in its current form.
The House version of the AHCA includes provisions which would prevent federal tax credits from being used to subsidize eligible health care plans that include coverage for elective abortion. The Senate parliamentarian, however, has reportedly indicated that the provision may not be allowed under Senate rules.
Republicans lawmakers have opted to use a legislative process known as budget reconciliation to pass their “repeal and replace Obamacare” bill. While most legislative measures require a three-fifths majority to invoke closure, reconciliation bills only require a simple majority (51 votes) to pass in the Senate.
The budget reconciliation process was created by Congress in the Congressional Budget Act of 1974. The reconciliation process has been used on a number of occasions to pass key legislative measures that have not enjoyed the support of more than a bare majority of Senators. In 2010, Democratic lawmakers used reconciliation to amend portions of the ACA over the objections of Senate Republicans who were at that time the minority party.
In order for Congress to use reconciliation, however, a bill must pass a six-part test in the Senate known as the Byrd Rule. As a matter of precedent, the Senate parliamentarian enjoys considerable latitude in determining whether a provision meets the conditions of the Byrd Rule. Current Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough was appointed by then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2012 after Alan Frumin retired from the position.
Parliamentarian MacDonough’s reported objections to conscience protection provisions in the AHCA could prove problematic for pro-life advocates. For pro-lifers, it is the expectation that any GOP health care bill must prevent federal funding for health care plans that include coverage for elective abortion.
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