The path to a fiscal year 2022 federal budget became much more complex, if not impossible, after the Democratic majority this week removed long-standing budget language preventing the use of tax dollars for abortions.
Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole, (R) OK-4, is a respected voice of reason on Capitol Hill, but he said there’s no reasoning with him and other Republicans on removal of the Hyde Amendment. He said that is a red line.
"It is probably the reddest of red lines," Rep. Cole said in an interview Thursday.
Not every Republican is as pro-life as the next, but Cole said all oppose using public money to pay for abortion, and he said until now, most Democrats did, too.
"Democrat Presidents, Republican Presidents, Democratic Congresses, Republican Congresses have all respected this," Cole remarked, "they made the decision not to do that."
Thursday, during markup of the Health and Human Services budget, Democrats on the Appropriations Committee defeated Cole's attempt to add both the Hyde Amendment and the Weldon amendment. Since 1976, the Hyde amendment has barred the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, with rare exceptions. The Weldon Amendment, a more recent measure, withholds federal dollars from states that discriminate against doctors who, for moral reasons, refuse to perform abortions.
"So, taking those two things out of the bill and moving along guarantees uniform Republican opposition," Cole said.
Progressive Democrats argue the amendments disproportionately impact women of color and of lesser means who rely on Medicaid for health care.
But Cole said most Americans still oppose public funding of abortion and he thinks Democratic leadership, faced with the reality of this budget going nowhere and having to pass a continuing resolution, will eventually back down.
"I hope that’s where we get to, you know, we’ll see how quickly they sober up," said Cole.