This week, the full Senate is set to consider another appropriations “minibus” which includes funding for the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies.
Both bills passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee with “near-unanimous support,” and will be the eighth and ninth appropriations bills to be processed by the upper chamber ahead of the funding deadline looming on September 30.
Under the Department of Health and Human Services heading, the bill would provide $286,479,000 for the Title X Family Planning Program in Fiscal Year 2019. The Title X Program is currently funded at the level proposed in the appropriations bill and has not seen a change in funds since 2014. The bill also continues prohibitions on the use of taxpayer dollars for abortions, for health insurance plans which pay for abortions, and for the creation of human embryos for research.
Any bill the Senate passes must also be reconciled with the House of Representatives. The House Appropriations Committee passed its Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill on July 11, 2018, which has not yet been considered by the full House. In addition to maintaining a prohibition of the expenditure of taxpayer funds for abortions and human embryo research, the House’s version of the bill provides $0 for Title X in Fiscal Year 2019 and strips abortion providers of federal funds.
The report accompanying the House bill requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to investigate states like California and New York which have enacted laws requiring health plans to cover abortions, which may be in violation of the federal Weldon Amendment.
The Weldon Amendment prohibits federal funds from being “made available to a Federal agency or program, or to a State or local government, if such agency, program, or government subjects any institutional or individual health care entity to discrimination on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.”
It is unclear how the differences in these bills, and the other appropriations bills, will be reconciled and if a government shutdown will be averted in September. President Trump tweeted in July he would be willing to “shut down” the government to ensure funding for a border wall. However, this weekend Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney expressed confidence Congress appears to be on track to avoid a shutdown.
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