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Indian Health Care Improvement Act Amendments of 2007

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


INDIAN HEALTH CARE IMPROVEMENT ACT AMENDMENTS OF 2007 -- (Senate - February 26, 2008)

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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, I strongly urge all of my colleagues to support this mainstream amendment. The Vitter amendment codifies the Hyde amendment and simply says in Indian health care no taxpayer funds will be used to support abortions, with the normal exceptions of the Hyde amendm ent.

Up to now, this has been the practice and the law, but only because the Indian health care law points to whatever the current appropriations language is on the subject in Labor, Health, and Education. And so it is a very tenuous policy that is subject to change and a vote and a change in policy every year.

This amendment will solidify that policy. It will put the Hyde amendment in permanent Federal authorization law with regard to the Indian health care act, just as was done decades ago in the De fense authorization bill. It is a solid mainstream amendment, and I urge support from both sides of the aisle.

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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, I do this to ask t he distinguished Senator about the provision he is talking about. Maybe we can have a discussion about it rather than him vaguely alluding to it without pointing out the language and claiming nobody knows what it means.

Mr. DORGAN. Well, Mr. President, the appropriate place for that kind of discussion would have been a congressional hearing. That is where you discuss what provisions mean and how they are written.

The provision reads: As to provide or pay any administrative cost of any health benefits coverage that includes coverage of an abortion.

I don't understand what that means with respect to facilities or other issues. There are a series of issues that relate to that. And that is not, incidentally, just codifying the Hyde amendment, as the Senator alleges. This provision doesn't exist with the Hyde amendment. This is something the Senator conceived of and added.

My point is, it ought to be the subject of a hearing. We don't disagree on the issue of Federal funding for abortion. We agree on that. But the Senator has mischaracterized his amendment.

Mr. VITTER. Reclaiming my remaining time, that was language I pointed out to the distinguished Senator 3 weeks ago when I introduced my amendment and we discussed it. So I think it is a little disingenuous to bring it up at this point.

Mr. DORGAN. And, Mr. President, he indicated when he pointed it out to me that this is why it was different than the Hyde amendme nt, which doesn't point to what he claims today.

The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The question is on agreeing to the amendment.

Mr. VITTER. I ask for the yeas and nays.


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