Democrats are stuck on abortion and gun control. They have a backup plan

President Joe Biden is expected in his budget this week to urge Congress to lift the 45-year-old ban on abortion funding after supporting that ban throughout his career. But Biden’s recent reversal of the Hyde amendment won’t be enough to overturn the Senate, where moderates like Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) Oppose the lifting of the ban and Democrats ultimately need Republican support to pass spending laws.

“Any clue suggests there is little chance in the Senate,” said Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), A top appropriator in the House, of efforts, particularly to lift the ban on abortion spending. “But that doesn’t mean you don’t stand up for it in certain places.”

Democrats are planning budget increases for sexual and reproductive health services, family planning, and pregnancy prevention among teenagers in the hopes that some of these issues will become more palatable to Republicans and moderates when they pass a series of bipartisan spending bills. They also hope to build on millions of dollars allocated to research into gun violence in recent years after the long-standing Dickey Amendment has cooled studies on the subject for more than two decades.

Because the Hyde Amendment prevents federal funds from being spent on abortions, it prevents low-income women from paying for the procedure through government programs like Medicaid. The main workaround for pro-choice lawmakers: Put money into scholarship programs that fund clinics like Planned Parenthood.

“We can do a lot without speaking directly to Hyde, which is important to support women’s access to reproductive decisions,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).

The Democrats are now planning substantial increases in funding for the Title X family planning program. Biden has applied for $ 340 million for this purpose, an increase of nearly 19 percent over current funding.

Shaheen, a member of the spending body that funds the State Department and overseas programs, also wants Congress to spend more money on international family planning work, including through the U.S. Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency, which currently has approximately $ 33 million Dollar is funded.

“It’s hard for me to understand why there seems to be such opposition to increasing family planning support,” Shaheen said. “It improves maternal and baby health around the world. So I hope we can do it. “

Federal money runs out on Sept. 30, and House Democrats are expected to pass their first spending bills in July without the abortion funding ban.

But unlike a massive infrastructure plan that the Democrats can push forward without the GOP’s support, any deal to keep the government open ultimately requires a buy-in of at least 10 Senate Republicans, which means a fight to end it the Hyde and Dickey amendments that could prevent annual spending bills or force a government shutdown.

“It’s a fundamental decision,” Price said when speaking out against the funding bans. “But in the end there has to be a practical choice to get the bills through.”

Even returning ear tags is not enough to get GOP lawmakers to forego the long-standing Hyde provision, which has largely served as a ceasefire between the two parties, and resolve an issue that easily wreaths state funds could fall.

“I could get any tag I wanted, but if the Democrats removed the Hyde amendment from Labor H law, I certainly wouldn’t be voting in it, and I don’t think a Republican for life would do that “said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the senior Republican on the House Panel, who oversees funding for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.

Proponents of progressives and abortion rights say that even symbolic support for eliminating the Hyde Amendment is progress. Congress needs to “start making markers” to recognize that the democratic grassroots want to largely ditch the provision, said Destiny Lopez, co-president of Abortion Rights Advocacy All * Above All.

“This is deeply a racial and economic justice issue,” Lopez said. “It’s one of the toughest barriers to access to abortion that Congress actually controls.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Co-chair of the Pro Choice Caucus, said progressive Democrats would keep fighting until they had enough votes in both houses to torpedo the provision forever.

“It affects black and brown women disproportionately,” Lee said of the Hyde amendment. “We will not stop.”

In recent years progressives have had more success in their efforts to reduce the Dickey amendment introduced in 1996, which has been reissued every year since. While the change forbids the CDC to advocate gun control and has served to stall research on the subject for more than two decades, in 2018 the Democrats changed language to explicitly allow the health department to investigate gun violence .

Then, in 2019, Congress made funds available specifically for this purpose for the first time, spending $ 25 million. Home Remedies Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) Told CDC officials during a hearing earlier this week that she would like a “progress report” on this research effort.

Although the Dickey amendment remains intact, Democrats say the new language will greatly facilitate the politics that once stalled research on gun violence. To build on that victory, they now plan to allocate billions of additional dollars between federal agencies to bolster research, gun violence prevention initiatives, and background check systems while encouraging states to pass gun licensing laws and set up voluntary gun buyback programs.

“Our country continues to have a staggering gun death rate,” Attorney General Merrick Garland told the House appropriators this month when he asked for an additional $ 232 million in gun violence. “This is both a law enforcement problem and a public health problem.”

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