Scoop: Abortion threatens House spending fights
Anti-abortion measures are complicating House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's (R-Calif.) efforts to pass spending bills before a government shutdown, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: McCarthy's struggles to unify his fractious conference in spending fights, even before tough negotiations with the Senate, means funding the government by the Sept. 30 deadline will be a tall order.
Driving the news: Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.) told Axios he opposes a bill funding the Department of Agriculture over a provision reversing FDA guidance that allows the abortion pill mifepristone to be sent by mail and dispensed at retail pharmacies.
- “There are several issues I have with the Agriculture Appropriations bill. If it’s brought to the House Floor in its current form, I cannot support it and will vote no," he said in a statement.
What we're hearing: Rep. Anthony D'Esposito (R-N.Y.) suggested the concern is shared by freshman Republicans from New York, most of whom represent districts President Biden won in 2020.
- "The New Yorkers have been in conversation about it," he told Axios. "The conversations are continuing, we're going to express our displeasure to leadership and go from there."
- Molinaro and D'Esposito both spoke out against a judge's ruling in April banning mifepristone, as did Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-Ore.), another Biden-district freshman, and Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), who has warned of the electoral consequences of her party's abortion moves.
The big picture: Spending bills that fund the Departments of Defense, State, Health & Human Services, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security also have provisions that would ban the use of federal funds for abortion.
- The HHS bill includes a provision that completely eliminates funds to clinics such as Planned Parenthood that provide family planning services.
State of play: The Ag-FDA bill was passed out of the Appropriations Committee in June along party lines.
- Like other House GOP appropriations bills, it sets spending below the caps laid out in the bipartisan debt ceiling deal.
- Because of their narrow majority, House Republicans can only afford a handful of defections on party-line floor votes.
Yes, but: The National Defense Authorization Act passed last week despite concerns of a moderate revolt over a measure blocking a Pentagon policy reimbursing service-members for abortion-related expenses.
- Moderate Reps. John Duarte (R-Calif.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) voted against including the abortion amendment but ultimately ended up voting for the final bill.
- But restricting mifepristone goes much further than restricting federal funds for abortion, putting a larger group of Republican moderates from blue and purple districts in a bind.
What we're watching: House Appropriations Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) told Axios that she may submit an amendment to the Ag-FDA bill that would strip the mifepristone rider, setting up a potential floor fight.
- Many of the abortion provisions, if they manage to pass the House, would likely be stripped out in negotiations with the Democratic-controlled Senate.
- But the stark divide between the two chambers on both spending levels and controversial policy riders will make make funding the government on time far more difficult.