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Indian Health Care Improvement Act Amendments of 2007

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC




Mr. BROWNBACK. I rise to discuss the Vitter amendment to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act No. 3896. It is an important amendment. I am a cosponsor.

I want to give a bit of outline on this provision. This codified within the Indian Health Care Improvement Act a provision that is referred to as the Hyde amendment that has been public law for some 25 years. Congressman Henry Hyde, whom both the Presiding Officer and myself served with in the House of Representatives, who passed away last year, was a giant on the issue, bringing the issue of life to the Congress, to the country.

The so-called Hyde amendment prohibits taxpayer funding for abortions other than in case of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. This is a provision which has really not been contested for some period of the time because while we have a contentious debate about abortion in the United States, the level of the contention of the debate is much lower regarding taxpayer funding of abortion when it involves anything other than rape, incest, life of the mother. That has generally been agreed to in this body, that we should not use taxpayer money in those particular situations.

What the Vitter amendment does is take that particular provision and puts it in the Indian health care bill and says that we should not fund abortions through the Indian health care provisions or Indian health care facilities other than in cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother. Federal taxpayer dollars should not be used. Most people agree. They may be pro-choice, they may be pro-life, but they are saying still--most people in this country do not want their Federal taxpayer dollars used for this purpose. And what we are doing in this particular provision is codifying within the Indian Health Care Improvement Act this provision. The Hyde amendment is normally put in the Labor-HHS appropriations bill. It has typically not been put within the Interior appropriations bill where Indian health care is normally funded.

Indian health care legislation being an authorizing piece of legislation, I think it is important that we codify this particular provision. This will be a key vote. It will be a key vote on people's views toward taxpayer funding of these types of abortions other than in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother. I would hope that most of our colleagues would say, even if they are pro-choice: Well, I do not think that is something we should be doing with Federal taxpayer dollars. I would hope a number of people would look and say: This is such a contentious debate and so many people in the country do not agree with abortion and particularly do not want their dollars, their taxpayer dollars used to fund selective abortions, that people say: Okay, you are right, an individual may be pro-choice, but I do not think we ought to do that in this particular situation, and would then vote for the Vitter amendment.

It is very carefully drafted. It is narrowly cast. It is a policy issue where there has been agreement between the House, the Senate, and the President.

There has been agreement on the Hyde amendment provision for over 20 years, particularly cast on this contentious issue.

That is why I hope colleagues will look at this carefully and say: I have supported Hyde amendment-type language in the past. This makes sense. It is a commonsense provision.

I hope my colleagues will support the Vitter amendment because of this particular provision and will agree that it makes sense to them as well.

Overall, it is a contentious issue, but this particular provision should not be. I urge my colleagues to look at it carefully and see if they could not support the Vitter amendment. I strongly urge its passage.

I ask unanimous consent that any time I did not use be kept on the Vitter amendment.

I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

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