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Indian Health Care Improvement Act Amendments of 2007

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. VITTER. Madam President, I offer an important amendment with regard to abortion and the pro-life cause. It is a very appropriate day that we talk about this because as we speak tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of people, particularly young people, from all around the country are marching in Washington, on the Mall, at the Supreme Court, in a positive, vibrant march for life. In offering this amendment, I also want to thank all of my original amendment cosponsors: Senators ALLARD, BROWNBACK, THUNE, and INHOFE.

This amendment is very simple. This amendment codifies, solidifies the Hyde amendment policy in this important Indian Health Care Improvement Act. It establishes, reasserts, the policy of the Hyde amendment with regard to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act and puts that Hyde amendment language in the authorization language for this important part of Federal law.

Let me explain why it is necessary. For many years the Hyde amendment has been honored, including in this Federal program, but in a very roundabout and precarious way. For many years this program and this authorization have included language that says: This program will be governed by whatever abortion language is contained in the current Health and Human Services appropriations bill. And for those years, Congress has included Hyde amendment language in that appropriations bill to which this program points. That has worked, sort of, in accomplishing having the Hyde amendment in Federal law with regard to Indian health care, but it puts it in a tenuous and precarious posture. It puts it up for debate and possible change of policy every year, every time we debate a new Health and Human Services appropriations bill. Therefore, it doesn't make the policy very solid, very secure, or very clear.

My amendment is very simple. It would simply place that Hyde amendment language directly in the Indian health care language and say: No Federal funds in this program will be used to perform abortions except in the rare exceptions delineated in the original Hyde amendment.

This is very appropriate. Why should we go to this in such a roundabout and tenuous and precarious way? I think we should place that clear policy, which has been accepted over many years, since the original Hyde amendment debate, directly in the Indian Health Care Improvement Act and not have it sort of get there maybe every year through such a torturous and tenuous and precarious route.

It is very simple. On this day, where tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of Americans, particularly young people--and that is so heartening--are marching on Washington in a positive march for life, will we clearly reaffirm that Hyde amendment language in the Indian Health Care Improvement Act? I suggest all of us should do that. I suggest that would be a positive statement for life, for positive values for the future. Voting for the amendment will accomplish just that.

I have talked to the chairman of the committee, and he has indicated that a vote will be forthcoming further on in the debate of this bill. I welcome that. I welcome everyone on both sides of the aisle joining together around this consensus amendment to make a positive statement for life, to reaffirm what has been Federal policy for several years, the Hyde amendment, and to move forward, hopefully together, in a positive spirit, making that positive statement for life.

In closing, this is a very important issue and a very important amendment, a very important vote to millions of people around the country who care deeply about life. Because of that, this will be a vote focused on and graded by several key national groups; specifically, the National Right to Life Committee, Concerned Women of America, and the Family Research Council.

I have letters from all three of these groups making clear their strong support of the Vitter amendment and also making clear that this vote on this amendment will be graded in their activity monitoring the Congress. I ask unanimous consent that three letters be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:


Washington, DC, October 23, 2007.
Re Vitter Amendment to S. 1200 (abortion funding).

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