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Sasse Rips Pelosi for Trying to Smuggle Hyde Amendment Loophole into Coronavirus Package

Senator Ben Sasse (R, Neb.) on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., September 27, 2018. (Erin Schaff/Reuters)

Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) slammed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Democrats for reportedly trying to ensure federal funding for abortion as part of the coronavirus economic stimulus plan.

“While schools are closing and hospitals are gearing up, Speaker Pelosi is waging unnecessary culture wars. Speaker Pelosi should be fighting the coronavirus pandemic, not politicizing emergency funding by fighting against the bipartisan Hyde Amendment,” Sasse told National Review in a statement. “We need to be ramping up our diagnostic testing, not waging culture wars at the behest of Planned Parenthood. Good grief.”

Pelosi attempted to secure a funding stream of up to $1 billion for reimbursing laboratory claims. According to White House officials who spoke with the Daily Caller, that provision would establish a precedent under which health claims for all procedures, including abortion, could be reimbursed with federal funds. That precedent would render the Hyde Amendment, which blocks taxpayer funding for abortion clinics, obsolete.

Pelosi resisted efforts by Democrats to end the Hyde Amendment in recent months, with progressives being forced to abandon an attempt to “ensure” abortion coverage for people using federal health programs as part of a $190 billion budget bill passed in July.

“It is the law of the land right now, and I don’t see that there’s an opportunity to get rid of it with the current occupant of the White House and this U.S. Senate,” Pelosi said at the time, adding that she does not support the Hyde Amendment herself.

But Pelosi’s tactics were seemingly confirmed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), who claimed in an interview on Fox News Thursday night that “right now we are hearing that some of the fights and some of the gridlock is because people are trying to put pro-life provisions into this.”

Pelosi went back and forth with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Thursday, ultimately coming close to a deal, with the House set to vote on the package Friday after the Speaker reportedly dropped the matter.

“We’ve resolved most of our differences, and [for] those we haven’t we’ll continue the conversation, because there will obviously be other bills,” Pelosi told reporters on Thursday.

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