Washington D.C., Sep 26, 2019 / 14:00 pm
The Senate on Thursday passed a temporary extension of government funding ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline, but with an inclusion that could trigger a fight over abortion funding in the coming months.
Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), allowed the inclusion of an amendment reinstating funding for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in a State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill that then was approved by the full committee on Sept. 26.
The amendment by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) would bring back $32.5 million in funding of the UNFPA which the Trump administration has withheld since 2017; the funding has been withheld because of UNFPA’s partnership with the Chinese government, which carries out a mandatory two-child family planning policy through coercive abortions and sterilizations.
The administration has instead redirected the UNFPA’s funding to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), for family planning programs that are compliant with the Mexico City Policy.
The re-inclusion of UNFPA funding could be subject to the Kemp-Kasten amendment, which prohibits funding of “any organization or program which, as determined by the president of the United States, supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”
The bill, as approved on Thursday, also includes increased family planning funding, which is in apparent violation of the July budget agreement between President Trump and congressional leaders.
The July agreement instructed that no “poison pill” amendments would be inserted into spending bills over the following two years without the approval of all the parties involved in the agreement, and that funding levels for controversial programs would not change.
This increase in family planning aid could go to fund groups that provide or promote abortions abroad if the Mexico City Policy is repealed in the future. The Mexico City Policy currently protects against U.S. family planning and global health aid going to groups promoting or providing abortions.