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Public Statements

Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act Of 2009

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

SERVICE MEMBERS HOME OWNERSHIP TAX ACT -- (Senate - December 08, 2009)

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Mr. BROWNBACK. In responding to the Senator from Pennsylvania as well, I wish to quote Bart Stupak, who carried the same sort of amendment you are putting forward, only on the House side. The same sorts of questions, naturally, were coming forward, saying: OK, you are blocking abortion funding for the individual. He said this--and I am quoting directly from Representative Stupak:

The Capps amendment--Which is in the base Reid bill here--departed from Hyde in several important and troubling ways: by mandating that at least one plan in the health insurance exchange provide abortion coverage, by requiring a minimum $1 monthly charge for all covered individuals that would go toward paying for abortions and by allowing individuals receiving Federal affordability credits--those are Federal dollars--to purchase health insurance plans that cover abortion. .....

In all those ways, the Capps amendment--which is in the Reid bill--expands and does allow Federal funding of abortion that we have not done for 33 years.

Going on with Representative Stupak's statement:

Hyde currently prohibits direct federal funding of abortion. ..... The Stupak amendment--

Which is also the Nelson-Hatch amendment--is a continuation of this policy--

Of the Hyde amendment--nothing more, nothing less.

I think it is important to clarify that this is a continuation of what we have been doing for 33 years that the Senator from Utah and the Senator from Nebraska are putting forward with this amendment.

I thank my colleague for yielding.

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Mr. BROWNBACK. Will my colleague yield?

Mr. HATCH. I am happy to.

Mr. BROWNBACK. If you are not clear about this, then abortion will be funded. If there is any of this that needs clarity one thing is for certain with the Capps language in the baseline of the Reid bill, that abortion will be funded.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts recently passed its State-mandated insurance, Commonwealth Care, without an explicit exclusion on abortion. Guess what. Abortions there were also funded immediately. In fact, according to the Commonwealth Care Web site, abortion is considered covered as outpatient medical care. That is a point about being clear with the Hyde-type language, which is the Nelson-Hatch language, which says: No, we are not going to fund this, and we are going to continue the 33-year policy. If we keep the Capps language in that funds abortion--the last time the Federal Government funded abortions was during that 3-year period after Roe, but before Hyde, and we were funding about 300,000 abortions a year. The Federal taxpayer dollars funded abortions through Medicaid.

I cannot believe any of my colleagues would say: Yes, I would be willing to buy into that 300,000 abortions a year when President Obama and President Clinton said we want to make abortions safe, legal, and rare. Well, 300,000 a year would not be in that ballpark. That is the past number that happened when you didn't have Hyde language in place at the Federal level.

Mr. HATCH. That is what it will do here too. All this yelling and screaming when they say it equals the Hyde language--it doesn't. That is the problem. If they want to solve the problem, why not use the Hyde language that has been accepted by every Congress since 1977? The Senator is right that there were 300,000 abortions a year between 1973 and 1977 because we didn't have the Hyde language. We got tired of the taxpayers paying for them. Why should they pay for it? Why should taxpayers who are pro-life--for religious reasons or otherwise--have to pay for abortions, elective abortions by those who are not? They should not have to.

To be honest, the language in the current bill is ambiguous and it would allow that. Anybody who is arguing this is the same as the Hyde language hasn't read the Capps language. We want to change it to go along with Hyde. It doesn't affect the right to abortion, except that we are not going to have taxpayers paying for it.

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Mr. BROWNBACK. Madam President, I think the Catholic bishops have put it as concisely as anybody:

In every major Federal program where Federal funds combine with nonfederal funds (e.g. state or private) to support or purchase health coverage, Congress has consistently sought to ensure that the entire package of benefits excludes elective abortion. For example, the Hyde amendment governing Medicaid prevents the funding of such abortions not only using federal funds themselves, but also using the state matching funds that combine with the federal funds to subsidize the coverage. A similar amendment excludes elective abortions from all plans offered under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, where private premiums are supplemented by a federal subsidy. Where relevant, such provisions also specify that federal funds may not be used to help pay for administrative expenses of a benefits package that included abortions. Under this policy, those wishing to use state or private funds to purchase abortion coverage must do so completely separately from the plan that is purchased in whole or in part with federal financial assistance. This is the policy that health care reform legislation must follow if it is to comply with the legal status quo on federal funding of abortion coverage. All of the five health care reform bills approved by committee in the 111th Congress violate this policy.

Following the Hyde amendment principles is what we have done for 33 years, until this moment, until the Capps language in the Reid bill. Now we have flipped that on its head and are saying you can combine Federal funds with non-Federal funds to pay for elective abortions. That was the policy prior to Hyde in 1977. That funded 300,000 abortions, roughly, a year at that point in time. There is no way in this country that is a policy the American people support. They don't. They may be divided about abortion but not about Federal funding for elective abortion. There is no division about that at all. It has been very consistent policy, until we have seen the Reid bill, this particular piece of legislation. We have been quite consistent about this. It is my hope my colleagues will say: I may be pro-choice, but I have consistently supported Hyde because I think we should not be funding elective abortions.

I hope they will vote for the Nelson-Hatch amendment because of that very feature. It is not about abortion, it is about the funding of elective abortions. I hope we don't go in that direction.

I yield the floor.

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