Pro-life leader ‘confident’ Manchin will oppose abortion funding in upcoming budget battles

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One pro-life leader is “confident” that Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (W.Va.) – a key swing vote in the U.S. Senate – will oppose efforts to fund abortions in the coming fiscal year.

With President Joe Biden expected to release the details of his budget request for the 2022 fiscal year next week, one long-standing federal budget policy might not be included – the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of elective abortions in Medicaid. Democrats only have a tiebreaking majority in the U.S. Senate, however, thus increasing the importance of every single vote.

Asked about Manchin’s support for the Hyde Amendment on Thursday, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, stated her confidence that he will oppose attempts to undo the policy in the budget process.

"I actually spoke with him a couple weeks ago for quite a long time, and this was very much high on the agenda,” Dannenfelser told reporters on a Thursday call. “So I'm confident that we'll not only have his vote, but his advocacy there."

The amendment, passed each year as a rider to appropriations bills, stipulates that none of the funds in the legislation may be used for elective abortions. It was first enacted in 1976, introduced by former Republican congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois several years after the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide.

House Democratic leadership has signaled its support for repealing the Hyde Amendment, and Biden – once a supporter of the policy as a senator – reversed his position as a presidential candidate in 2019, and is now committed to repealing the policy.

As part of the federal budget process, appropriations bills would still have to be marked up by the Senate Appropriations Committee and approved by the whole Senate. Both the committee and the chamber are split evenly between the two parties, with Democrats having the tiebreaking vote with Vice President Kamala Harris, in the event of a 50-50 split.

Several senators in both parties – including Manchin – are expected to be the focus of attention on the committee as possible swing votes on budget bills. While Manchin is endorsed by the pro-life group Democrats for Life of America, two Republican senators on the committee – Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) – have 64% and 70% ratings from the pro-abortion group Planned Parenthood Action, respectively.

Dannenfelser stated on Thursday that she believes Manchin will support the Hyde Amendment. “His role on the Appropriations Committee is pivotal, he takes it very seriously,” she said. “This is his fight, he believes.”

Hyde language was omitted from a nearly-$2 trillion COVID relief package that passed Congress earlier this year. Pro-life groups, including the U.S. bishops, warned that the lack of restrictions on funding of abortion would result in taxpayer dollars funding abortion coverage.

After Biden releases the details of his FY 2022 budget, House committees are expected to begin marking up appropriations bills in June. The chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), has already  stated her opposition to the Hyde Amendment.

After bills are amended and approved by committees, the entire House will consider appropriations bills in July.

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