The Corner

Politics & Policy

Biden’s Proposed Budget Is Likely to Remove the Hyde Amendment

President Biden addresses a joint session of Congress in Washington, D.C., April 28, 2021. (Melina Mara/Reuters)

The Biden administration is slated to release its proposed budget for fiscal year 2022 tomorrow, and progressives are clamoring especially over the possibility that Biden will fail to include the pro-life Hyde amendment in his proposal.

Since the 1970s, Congress has attached the Hyde amendment to relevant spending bills to prevent federal funding from directly underwriting elective abortion procedures. As recently as the fight over the Affordable Care Act, about a quarter of Democrats insisted on including such an amendment in order to vote for the bill.

The Hyde amendment was once a bipartisan compromise to protect the consciences of pro-life Americans. During his several decades in the Senate, Joe Biden himself was a vocal proponent of Hyde, reiterating his own “personally pro-life” stance and insisting that Americans opposed to abortion should not be forced to direct their tax dollars toward abortion or toward groups that perform abortions.

But all of that changed over the last few years. In 2016, the Democratic Party’s official platform for the first time in history called for an end to Hyde, and left-wing politicians have become increasingly vocal in support of doing so as abortion-advocacy groups have turned up the pressure.

Biden was swift to reverse himself on the issue during the Democratic primary campaign to accommodate his party’s march leftward. Facing criticism over his previous support for Hyde, Biden came out in June 2019 against the amendment, and for the rest of the campaign he promised that, as president, he would back federally funded abortion on demand.

The time has come to put his money — or the American people’s money, in this case — where his mouth is. According to several reports, Biden is widely expected to use tomorrow’s proposed budget to formally endorse bringing an end to Hyde by leaving it out of his proposal, ushering in an era in which nearly the entire Democratic Party demands that spending bills fund abortion on the taxpayer dime.

Meanwhile, most Republican politicians appear prepared to resist such a sea change in federal abortion policy. Earlier this year, 200 GOP lawmakers in the House, led by Republican Study Committee chairman Jim Banks (R., Ind.), signed a letter pledging not to vote for any spending bill that fails to include pro-life protections such as Hyde. Nearly every GOP senator — excluding Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — signed on to a similar letter in the Senate, led by Montana Republican Steve Daines, who chairs the Senate Pro-Life Caucus.

Those lawmakers held to their promise in the spring when they refused to vote for the Democrats’ massive $1.9 trillion stimulus bill disguised as COVID-19 relief funding. The bill directed about $500 million to Planned Parenthood and included no Hyde-amendment protections to prevent various other funding streams from underwriting abortion.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect that the Clinton administration also proposed removing Hyde in 1993.

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