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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. President, my hope is that each of us in this Chamber and their families enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving time, being grateful for all of the blessings that we in this country have.

I know I certainly had a wonderful week. I had the opportunity to spend some time across the great State of Tennessee and to talk with Tennesseans about what was on their minds.

I will tell you this. In my opinion and experience, as diverse as Tennesseans are, there is one thing in common that I heard repeatedly, and that is that they are through with trying to guess where politicians in Washington, DC, stand on issues. This is something I think all of us need to hear and probably don't want to hear, but our fellow Americans, and certainly Tennesseans, have no idea what their elected representatives believe. Instead, all they see up here is this endless cycle of political in-fighting and failed legislation. They consistently say: We want you to focus on things that are important to us. We want you to focus on things that are important to the country. I will tell you that it is no wonder that our country's discourse is plagued by what is a marked cynicism for even our most earnest efforts.

As I thought about this during the week and the visits that I had across the State, I thought: You need look no further for an example of where they see this fighting as being unnecessary than an issue that has become a magnet for derision, and that is the issue of protecting life--more specifically, the use of taxpayer dollars to fund the abortion procedures.

In poll after poll, after poll, a majority of Americans have indicated that they oppose public funding of abortion. The numbers on this are not even close.

As early as this summer, self-identified Democrats' support for taxpayer-funded abortion struggled to even break out of single digits. The data is clear, and it is convincing. The American taxpayer does not want their tax dollar being used to fund abortion procedures.

So how is it, then, that my friends in the minority insist upon loopholes and work-arounds that make taxpayers complicit in the slaughter of the unborn?

Their cause has been frustrated, of course, by President Trump's aggressively pro-life agenda. Last year, he proposed the ``protect life rule,'' which cut taxpayer funding under the title X program for any facility that performs abortions or that refers their clients to those facilities that perform abortions.

This rule closely mirrored my Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act. That was the first bill I filed when I came to the Senate. It is something that is very important to me.

But this year, this body's liberal faction once again seized an opportunity to undercut the pro-life agenda via a legislative trick known around this Chamber and Capitol Hill as a poison pill. You see, they found a way to hold hostage millions of dollars attached to the fiscal year 2020 State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill. That was done via an amendment that funnels family planning dollars to domestic organizations that support abortions overseas.

Do you see what they are doing?

It is an amendment that funnels family planning dollars to domestic-- U.S.--organizations, but those organizations are supporting abortions overseas. It also uses Obama-era gender policies to define sex--a clear red herring to get people arguing about gender identity so they will ignore the Democratic Party's leftward swing on the issue of abortion.

You could chalk all this up to politics, were it not for the existence of the bipartisan budget agreement that both parties agreed to ahead of our work on appropriations. That agreement included a ban on poison pill riders like the Shaheen amendment, as well as assurances that any poison pills would be swiftly removed. We thought we had taken care of that issue with the bipartisan budget agreement, but oh, no, here we go.

Yet in order to ``empower women overseas'' Democrats have indicated that they are willing to throw away $847 million for maternal and child health, $100 million for global health security programs, $150 million for nutrition assistance, and $6.2 billion for global HIV and AIDS assistance. They are doing this, throwing all that money away, so they can make a political point.

This is an interesting development coming from the party that once deployed their support for abortion in only the most extraordinary circumstances. The party of ``safe, legal, and rare''--their terminology--has become the party that hedges their bets with infanticide and prioritizes convenience over human life.

Just across the river in Virginia, Ralph Northam and his cohorts were allowed to set a new reprehensible standard for what left-leaning America is willing to condone in the name of soulless politicking.

Tennesseans told me they want to see their representatives speaking up. They want to see women speaking up on behalf of life, families, and the unborn. They see clearly that if protecting life is the hallmark of the conservative movement, then, destroying life is the hallmark of a more liberal approach. They want us to draw a line in the sand and declare once and for all that loopholes and legislative tricks will no longer be tolerated because, for them, abortion is not up for casual discussion. They see how clearly and how easily the left trifles with the lives of children, and they are repulsed by it. What they want us to do is to focus on getting things done that are important to them. And, yes, to Tennesseans, being able to say the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness is something that has a deep meaning.


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