The Hyde Amendment, enacted into law each year since 1976, prohibits federal funding of elective abortions; the amendment is passed as a rider to budget legislation.
The policy has come under fire from Democrats in recent years, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in August that she intended to not include the Hyde Amendment in appropriations bills in 2021. President Joe Biden also supports the amendment’s repeal, after having supported the policy for years.
Pro-life groups are concerned about public funding of abortions in the 117th Congress. They have warned that the Hyde Amendment could be repealed or simply undermined through a number of ways, including the creation of new funding streams without specific protections against abortion funding.
The U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB) has already urged members of Congress to not fund abortions or abortion coverage in an upcoming COVID relief bill.
In their letter, the senators said they would also oppose any measure “that would eliminate or weaken the Hyde Amendment or any other current-law pro-life protections, or otherwise undermine existing Federal pro-life policy.”
Notably, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) did not sign the letter. He vocally supported the Hyde Amendment in December, in an interview with National Review, and said he would vote against legislation repealing it.
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Manchin, who is endorsed by Democrats for Life of America, is considered a key vote in the Senate with Democrats and Republicans both holding 50 seats. Some pro-life groups, however, have expressed caution over Manchin’s reliability as a critical pro0
Daines’ group of 47 senators would constitute a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, able to thwart passage of pro-abortion legislation. The filibuster is a parliamentary procedure that requires 60 votes to end debate and move a bill for consideration by the full chamber.
However, Democrats have said they will use the procedure of “reconciliation” to pass budget-related items; this procedure only requires a simple majority to pass a budget-related measure.