COVID Relief or Abortion Bailout?

March 4, 2021

If only nine percent of the $1.9 trillion COVID bill fights the virus, then what on earth does the other 91 percent do? Well, for starters, Senator Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) pointed out, it tears down the firewall between taxpayers and abortion. The Democrats' priority isn't getting money into the hands of people who treat life -- they want to funnel billions to the abortionists who take it.

"If they [put] a bill in front of us that provided more money for getting the vaccines distributed more widely and faster, and some other assistance for direct COVID relief," Cramer said on "Washington Watch," "they'd get 100 votes in the Senate." Now, they'll be lucky to get 51. And a big reason why is just how aggressively the bill backs abortion. Forget the Hyde amendment, Cramer shook his head. "It's gone. It's just gone." "Something that's had bipartisan support for over 40 years -- the ban on taxpayer-funded abortion -- [it's been stripped away]. And they're so brazen in this bill that $414 billion dollars of their spending is not Hyde-protected. And they're able to do that, because -- again -- [this is] the reconciliation process that only requires 50 senators to vote for it."

In the House, the idea was so unpopular that almost every Republican cosponsored an amendment to block abortion funding. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) spoke passionately about this break with tradition, reminding Democrats that "all five of the previous COVID relief packages were bipartisan with the protections of the Hyde amendment." This "relief package" is a dramatic departure from that truce -- and a dangerous precedent to set in America.

Of course, the American people don't realize this is happening because there hasn't been a real debate on the bill! "Remember," Cramer said, "there's not been a single hearing on any of this. [This is a] $2 trillion dollar bill, [and there's no] hearing, no discussion across party lines -- at least no overt discussions across party lines. And when you don't have hearings, you don't have committee action... which means [everything is] away from the C-SPAN cameras and the media that covers these things. That's why people don't know. And it's our job over the next couple of days -- not just to stand up against this bill and not only to offer amendments -- but expose the things that the people don't know about that they didn't learn in the House because the House doesn't have as transparent a process as the Senate does..."

Biden, meanwhile, is holed up in the White House refusing to answer for his bill. He has yet to hold a single press conference -- which is the longest any modern president has gone without talking to reporters. And Biden has one luxury Donald Trump never did: a friendly media. Too friendly, 46 percent of Americans think.

If his party doesn't have the spine to tell Americans the truth about the bill, FRC will. It's a bad deal for taxpayers, the economy, and especially the unborn. Check out why below.

Appropriates Millions of Dollars Not Subject to the Hyde Amendment

  • All four bipartisan COVID-19 relief packages passed in the 116th Congress included the Hyde amendment. This ensured the funds could not be used to pay for elective abortions or health plans that cover elective abortions.
  • The American Rescue Plan Act is the largest break from this precedent in 45 years. While Congress did appropriate federal funds through tax credits and reimbursements that subsidize health plans covering abortion as part of Obamacare in 2010, no money that can be used directly for abortions has been appropriated since the Hyde amendment was passed in 1976.
  • The American Rescue Plan Act would appropriate more than $400 billion with no Hyde protections. Therefore, these funds would be eligible to subsidize elective abortions.
  • The bill would allocate an additional $50 million for the Title X Family Planning Program. If President Biden is able to overturn the Protect Life Rule, which prohibits Title X funds from going to abortion providers, abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood would be eligible to receive these funds.

Sets Up New Funding for Abortion and Abortion Businesses Abroad

  • The American Rescue Plan Act breaks with 47 years of congressional precedent by appropriating over $700 million of global health funds not subject to the Helms amendment, which prohibits taxpayer funding of abortion abroad.
  • According to a 2021 Knights of Columbus poll, 77 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion abroad, including 55 percent of Democrats.
  • The bill allocates $10 billion in foreign affairs funding not subject to the Silander amendment. This means these funds can be used to lobby for abortion overseas.
  • The International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International, two of the largest foreign abortion organizations, could also receive millions of dollars of funding for contraception or HIV/Aids prevention.

Provides a Bailout for Pro-Abortion States

  • The American Rescue Plan Act contains nearly $350 billion for state and local governments, without any pro-life protections.
  • A state or locality could use the bailout funds to pay for abortions directly -- all they would have to do is classify the abortions as part of their pandemic response.
  • It rewards large, liberal states (like California, Illinois, and New York) that use state funds to pay for abortions and subsidize Planned Parenthood, despite not having enough money in their budgets to cover pandemic-related expenses.

For more reasons to contact your senators, check out FRC's resource on the plan's abortion coverage.