SERVICE MEMBERS HOME OWNERSHIP TAX ACT -- (Senate - December 08, 2009)
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Mr. VITTER. Thank you, Madam President.
I strongly support the efforts of the distinguished Senator from Utah and his amendment offered along with Senator Nelson and Senator Casey. And I think this exchange and this colloquy is very helpful. In fact, I think it proves the point, particularly the participation of the Senator from Pennsylvania in it. The only folks who are defending the language in the Reid bill are folks who are clearly and strongly pro-choice, pro-abortion. Folks who have a fundamental problem with that all say the underlying language in the Reid bill has huge loopholes. That includes people who want to support the bill otherwise. I am strongly against this bill. I am not in that category. But, as the distinguished Senator, Mr. Brownback, mentioned, Representative Stupak wants to support the underlying bill. He supported it in the House, but he was very clear in his efforts on the House floor that the underlying language, which is now in the Reid bill, had huge loopholes, wasn't good enough, needed to be fixed. That is why he came up with the Stupak language, and that is essentially exactly what we have in this amendment.
Similarly, the U.S. Conference of Bishops is very supportive of the concepts of the underlying bill, but they have said clearly that the Reid bill is ``completely unacceptable'' on this abortion issue and ``is actually the worst bill we have seen so far on the life issues.''
So this colloquy involving the distinguished Senator from Pennsylvania, I think that general debate proves the point clearly.
I again compliment the Senator from Utah, along with Senator Nelson, Senator Casey, and others--I am a cosponsor of the amendment--on this effort. We need to pass this on the bill. This will do away with the loophole. This will be real language to truly prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions. This constitutes exactly the same as that long tradition, since 1977, of the Hyde amendment. This marries the Stupak language, so it should be crystal-clear.
What will this amendment specifically do? It will mean there are no mandates for elective abortion coverage. Plans and providers are free from any government mandate for abortion under this amendment language. It would mean there is no Federal funding of elective abortion or plans that include elective abortion except in the case of when the life of the mother is in danger or in case of rape or incest. It means this amendment would allow individuals to purchase a supplemental policy or a plan that covers elective abortion as long as that separate policy is purchased completely with private dollars. It would prohibit the public plan from covering those elective abortions and prevent the Federal Government from mandating abortion coverage by any private plan. Insurance plans are not prevented from selling truly private abortion coverage, including through the exchange, but taxpayer dollars would have nothing--absolutely nothing--to do with it.
Bottom line: The effect on abortion funding and mandates is exactly the same as the long and distinguished tradition of the Hyde amendment with this amendment, and it would be exactly the same as the Stupak language on the House side.
I also agreed with the distinguished Senator from Utah when he said this should not be of any great controversy. Abortion is a deeply divisive issue in this country, but taxpayer dollars being used to pay for abortion is not. There is a broad and a wide and a deep consensus against using any taxpayer dollars to pay for abortion. The Senator from Utah mentioned polls. That is why the Hyde amendment has been longstanding since 1977. That is why it has been voted for and supported and passed again and again in Congresses with Democratic majorities and Republican majorities. It is a solid consensus. It does represent the common sense of the American people. Certainly, I will follow in a similar, proud tradition of Louisiana Senators supporting that consensus. Every U.S. Senator from Louisiana since the Hyde amendment was originally adopted has strongly supported this commonsense consensus view--every Senator. Everyone but me has been Democratic, but every sitting U.S. Senator from Louisiana has supported that commonsense consensus view, and I surely hope that tradition continues today.
Again, I applaud the Senator from Utah and his leading cosponsors, Senator Nelson and Senator Casey, on this effort, and I encourage all of my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, to come together around what the American people consider a real no-brainer, a true consensus, something that clearly reflects the common sense of the American people. Is abortion a divisive issue? Yes. Is using taxpayer dollars to fund abortion a close question? No. There is a clear consensus in America not to use any taxpayer dollars to fund abortion. It is crystal-clear that we need to pass this amendment, and the underlying language in the Reid bill is completely unacceptable.
With that, thank you, Madam President. I yield the floor.
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