Spending your money has never been easier! In the House, even Democrats were shocked at how fast the leadership breezed through a dozen appropriations bills, making snap decisions on where to direct a whopping $1.4 trillion dollars. Is marking up 12 bills in 10 days a record? Maybe, staffers say. It certainly was "the fastest in anyone's memory." But faster, as the rest of America is about to find out, isn't necessarily better. Especially when innocent lives are on the line.
It's usually a tedious process. In the past, appropriations debates have dragged on for months, sometimes running right up against the midnight, fiscal-year deadline. And while Republicans are just as eager to finish the long slog as everyone else, this year's debates were a depressing reminder of what Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) party will do with more power if they get it.
For ranking members like Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), it had already been a brutal week. He and the other conservatives watched their amendments to protect the president's conscience and life policies lose on party-line votes to Democrats over and over again. On Tuesday, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) felt his pain, trying -- and failing -- to get Democrats to join the other 94 percent of the country in opposing infanticide. He had the opportunity, as part of the military's Tricare health insurance debate, to insist on certain standards of care. But newborn babies, liberals will tell you, don't qualify.
Dr. Harris introduced a commonsense amendment that asked hospitals in the Tricare network to certify that they'd provide medical care for any baby born alive. One of the conditions of taxpayer funding, he proposed, is that they have a policy on the books guaranteeing that the newborn abortion survivor would "be taken care of and resuscitated." "It's very simple," he explained. "There are no criminal penalties... So this is not overly burdensome." And yet, he shook his head, I'm sure "the argument will be made that, well, this never occurs. But in fact, over the period of 2005-2014, the CDC identified 143 such cases in the United States. [Those] are the CDC's numbers, not anyone else's numbers. And that might even be an underestimate."
Hopefully, he told his friends across the aisle, "There's no discussion about whether [it's] appropriate that a human being born alive qualifies as an individual protection under the law... This is a simple way to make sure that those quality measures would be in place in hospitals that request and would receive TRICARE funds."
Although the amendment did get a little bipartisan support -- Congressmen Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) -- crossed over to vote yes, the rest of the committee's Democrats seem just as insistent as ever to make infant killing the new abortion. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) couldn't believe the Left's stubbornness. This amendment, he fumed to Sarah Perry "Washington Watch," "isn't talking about anything to do with abortion itself." It's about a newborn baby getting a "proper degree of care. And how the committee could vote that down... it's [hard] to understand... So, you know, that was probably one of the more discouraging votes of the week. Just knowing that... pro-choice members now can't even support issues like that, when a child is born alive and just is trying to survive."
Wednesday, things only got worse on the abortion front. Rep. Aderholt, in the Homeland Security-Financial Services debate, tried to stop the Democrats from turning D.C. into the capital of taxpayer-funded abortion. Pelosi's leaders gutted the language that had banned it for years, and when pro-lifers like Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) spoke up to defend the restriction, liberals fired back. "Another day, another markup, another amendment from anti-abortion elected officials that would deny access to abortion," Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) mocked.
It was one frustrating battle after the next. "These bills, as they're written," Aderholt shook his head, "are completely stripped of pro-life riders and any kind of amendments that have anything to do with [life]." Republicans will get another crack at it on the floor, when the 12 budgets come up for a final vote, but "it's very doubtful that that we will be able to get [anything good passed]." Thankfully, he said, "we do have a Republican Senate, and we've got to make sure they hold tight. And again, the president can also veto the bills as well. So we still have hope. But usually, when Republicans have control, we're able to send those to the floor and have these protections for the pro-life help for children of an unborn. And this year, we don't have it."