The Democratic-controlled House on Wednesday approved a spending bill that included a reauthorization of the so-called Hyde Amendment barring federal money for abortions, despite a recent bubbling of vocal opposition to the amendment from liberals and 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.
There was no direct, up-or-down vote on the Hyde Amendment itself. It was ensconced inside the spending package of Labor and Health and Human Services appropriations. It passed 226-203.
No Republicans supported the spending bill. Six Democrats, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive firebrand, voted against it. Asked about the Hyde Amendment, she told ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday: “I think that we need to repeal it.”
In recent weeks, the four-decade ban on taxpayer-financed abortions has drawn fire in Democratic circles, with former Vice President Joe Biden reversing his position in support of it after an outcry from liberals.
Despite the recent protests over the amendment, there was no plan from House Democrats to remove it from the spending package.
The Hyde Amendment states that Medicaid — the taxpayer-funded program for poor Americans — won't pay for abortions unless the woman's life is in danger or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. The late Rep. Henry Hyde, first introduced it in 1976, shortly after the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade legalizing the procedure.
Since then, Congress had had to reauthorize it as part of spending bills that fund the government. Democrats have had to live with it — and vote for it — as part of broader spending packages. Leading Democrats such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have reasoned that the amendment is the cost of getting other good things in the bills and of keeping the government running.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., emphasized Wednesday that many of the Democrats running for president have voted for spending bills with the amendment before.
Still, Democrats are expected to keep pushing to get rid of it, even though it would have little chance of passage in the GOP-controlled Senate.
New Jersey GOP Rep. Chris Smith, one of the most ardent pro-life voices in the House, said Wednesday that even though the Hyde Amendment remains in the bill, all this does is “delay” what Smith believes is the eventual elimination of the Hyde Amendment by Democrats.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.