Jul 28, 2023 - Health

Abortion, spending fights snag FDA spending bill

Illustration of hands drawing red lines over the US Capitol. 

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The first health-related spending bill to go through the House this year was pulled from the floor schedule on Thursday amid disputes over spending levels and a contentious abortion pill policy rider.

Why it matters: Lawmakers are heading home for the August recess, meaning work on the Agriculture-FDA appropriations package will be put off until after they return in September.

Driving the news: The House GOP conference can't agree on several measures within the bill.

  • House Freedom Caucus members want more funding cuts and policy concessions, while about a dozen moderate GOP members are balking at voting for a rider that would reverse current FDA policy on the abortion pill mifepristone.
  • The language would nullify FDA guidance allowing the commonly used abortion drug to be sold by mail and at retail pharmacies.
  • Freedom Caucus members want the policy reversal included — and also are pushing to set new work requirements for food assistance, which could further inflame moderates.
  • President Biden has already threatened to veto the House Ag-FDA bill if it made it to his desk.

What they're saying: Several GOP members who represent districts President Biden won in 2020 went on the record this week in opposition to the abortion pill language.

  • "Some states allow [mifepristone] to be mailed, some states don't, but that should be a decision with the states and the FDA, not Congress," said Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.).
  • "If that language stays as is, we won't be able to vote for that appropriations [bill]," said Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-Ore.).

What we're watching: If spending bills funding the government don't get passed after the recess, it's possible that Congress could be staring at a shutdown — unless lawmakers can pass a continuing resolution to avoid it.

Andrew Solender contributed to this report.

A version of this story was published first on Axios Pro. Get news like this by subscribing.

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