GOP Fails to Protect the Unborn — Mike Lee

Posted on: October 10, 2018

By Tom Gow

Under this bill, neither the unborn nor taxpayers are any more protected from the abortion industry than they were under President Obama and a unified Democratic Congress….

This bill represents a significant opportunity missed — and missed at a time when we can’t be sure how many more we will be given going forward, how many more opportunities like this one we might have. — Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), 9-18-18

On September 18th, the Senate “debated” the House-Senate “compromise” on the FY2019 Defense Appropriations bill (Senate Vote 212).  Earlier the Senate leadership had attached the unrelated Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill to the Defense bill in order to bring the big-government Democrats on board.  Only 7 senators voted against the “compromise,” which was very much like their earlier minibus.

During the ostensible debate, Senator Mike Lee took the podium to put on record why he was voting against the bipartisan measure:

For the second straight year of unified Republican governance — unified pro-life governance — Congress’s annual spending bills will include no new reforms protecting unborn children or getting Federal taxpayers out of the abortion business.

The House version of this Health and Human Services spending bill included multiple reforms. It denied taxpayer funds to the largest abortion provider in the country, Planned Parenthood. It eliminated title X family planning grants, which cross-subsidize abortion providers. It prohibited Federal funding of research on aborted fetal tissue. It included the Conscience Protection Act protecting pro-life people and groups from funding discrimination.

None of these modest, commonsense spending reforms survived the House-Senate negotiations — none of them. None was made a priority by the people empowered to set the priorities….

But before this bill passes with an overwhelming bipartisan supermajority as its base of support — despite it being mostly unread by its supporters — someone ought to speak up for the Americans whom this legislation conspicuously leaves behind….

Some causes are worth fighting for, even in defeat — the God-given equal rights and the dignity of all human beings paramount among them. [Emphasis added.]

Instead of following Senator Lee’s example, Senate appropriators touted bipartisan compromise and insisted, hypocritically, that in the interest of such compromise and getting things done on time, they had eliminated so-called controversial “poison pills” from the legislation.   But attaching the largely unconstitutional and unrelated Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education bill to the Defense bill was itself such an act.   In fact, in the House, 56 Republicans rejected this compromise to the Left, but only 5 Democrats (see House Roll Call 405).

Here are some examples (excerpts from the debates) [Emphasis added]:

Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), member Appropriations Committee:  This is a bipartisan agreement…. Today’s bill, I think, reflects the priorities of both sides of the Capitol and both sides of the aisle. We fulfilled the commitments the leaders made in the February budget agreement to keep the extraneous issues off these bills that fund the government.”

Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee:  “Mr. President, I want to thank my colleagues,  particularly Leaders McConnell and Schumer and Vice Chairman Leahy for  their help in moving this package. The conference report before the Senate accelerates the rebuilding of America’s military and provides our men and women in uniform with the largest pay increase in nearly a decade.

“It also increases NIH’s budget by $2 billion and provides  critical resources to combat the opioid epidemic. And, it contains no poison pill riders.   On the whole, the conference report tracks very closely with the Senate version of this package, which passed by a vote of 85 to 7. I hope it will receive the same level of support today and urge my colleagues to vote yes.”  

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), member Appropriations Committee:  “In conclusion, the outcome of much of this bill shows what we can  accomplish when Democrats and Republicans work together.”

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), ranking Democrat on Appropriations Committee:  “The two bills in the package before us — the Defense bill and the Labor-HHS-Education bill — are a product of hard work and bipartisan cooperation….

“We are still in conference on a four-bill minibus…. Most of the funding issues have been resolved. We do have some controversial poison pill riders.  We shouldn’t delay this package over unrelated policy matters that have no place on must-pass spending bills. Get the poison pills out and pass the bills.”

Such audacity! With the Health and Human Services bill attached to the Defense bill it is very much germane to decide whether or not to fund abortion providers with taxpayer money.  It’s just a matter of which group GOP senator leaders wanted to cater to — members of their own party or openly radical socialists.   Senator Lee comments:

The best measure of any government or any policy or proposal can be  measured according to its impact on the least among us. Too often today, Washington acts as though “the least among us” refers to our most vulnerable incumbents rather than our most vulnerable constituents. This $1.3 trillion spending bill exemplifies that very confusion and fails that very test….

I understand that fighting on contentious issues comes with a cost. I  understand that it is not easy. But other things come with a cost too.  It is not just this that comes with a cost — so, too, does not fighting on them, especially in the rare moments when we could win. This bill represents a significant opportunity missed — and missed at a time when we can’t be sure how many more we will be given going forward, how many more opportunities like this one we might have. Some causes are worth fighting for, even in defeat — the God-given equal rights and the dignity of all human beings paramount among them. [Emphasis added.]

Senator Lee’s complete remarks
For your interest, we include here the complete text of Senator Lee’s remarks as reported in the Congressional Record (9-18-18) [Emphasis added]:

Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah):  “Mr. President, I am a Republican because I am a conservative. I am a conservative because I believe the Constitution  and the ideals that it asserts on behalf of the American people are worth protecting, worth defending, even when they are untimely, even when they are unpopular, and especially for the vulnerable, for the marginalized, and for the forgotten among us.

“Equal rights, equal opportunity, equal justice under the law, equal dignity under God — we fail as Americans when we violate these ideals, when we neglect them to whatever degree, when we exclude some number of  our neighbors from their God-given share of our common inheritance,  when we declare in the interest of expedience and in defiance of our  own national creed that some people somehow are less equal than others.

“Such was the cruelty of our Nation through our laws, long-visited on  African Americans, Native Americans, immigrants, and ethnic minorities,  on women, on the disabled, and on religious minorities, including  religious minorities like my own forebears as members of the Church of  Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   Happily, this is no longer the case. Happily, all of these groups — who, taken together, comprise the vast majority of all Americans — were at different times in our history affirmatively brought under the  protection of our laws. This work of inclusion, of expanding the circle of legal and constitutional protection, was not a natural, organic,  spontaneous, evolutionary process; it was the product of hard work — the  work of vigilant citizens, activists, and lawmakers who affirmatively,  aggressively, painstakingly advanced the cause of justice at every  opportunity, even against the entrenched forces of the political status quo.   Republicans in this Congress have undertaken such efforts on behalf  of certain priorities — in particular, the tax relief and spending  increases that are poised to yield a budget deficit of nearly $1 trillion this year.

“But no such legislative progress has been achieved advancing the right to life nor the plight of those denied it. For the second straight year of unified Republican governance — unified pro-life governance — Congress’s annual spending bills will include no new reforms protecting unborn children or getting Federal taxpayers out of the abortion business. The House version of this Health and Human Services spending bill included multiple reforms. It denied taxpayer funds to the largest abortion provider in the country, Planned Parenthood. It eliminated title X family planning grants, which cross-subsidize abortion providers. It prohibited Federal funding of research on aborted fetal tissue. It included the Conscience Protection Act protecting pro-life people and groups from funding discrimination.

“None of these modest, commonsense spending reforms survived the House-Senate negotiations — none of them. None was made a priority by the people empowered to set the priorities. The authors of this bill defend their $1.3 trillion compromise. And of course, this being Washington, I know, as is always the case, that  in this case, it could always be worse. But before this bill passes with an overwhelming bipartisan supermajority as its base of support — despite it being mostly unread by its supporters — someone ought to speak up for the Americans whom this legislation conspicuously leaves behind.

“The best measure of any government or any policy or proposal can be  measured according to its impact on the least among us. Too often today, Washington acts as though “the least among us” refers to our most vulnerable incumbents rather than our most vulnerable constituents. This $1.3 trillion spending bill exemplifies that very confusion and fails that very test. Under this bill, neither the unborn nor taxpayers are any more protected from the abortion industry than they were under President Obama and a unified Democratic Congress.

“I understand that fighting on contentious issues comes with a cost. I understand that it is not easy. But other things come with a cost too.  It is not just this that comes with a cost — so, too, does not fighting on them, especially in the rare moments when we could win. This bill represents a significant opportunity missed — and missed at a time when we can’t be sure how many more we will be given going forward, how many more opportunities like this one we might have.  Some causes are worth fighting for, even in defeat — the God-given equal rights and the dignity of all human beings paramount among them.   The arc of history may, as I hope, bend toward life, but only if we bend it. I oppose this legislation, but I do so neither in anger nor in sadness; rather, I do so in hope, looking forward to another bill, another time in the not-too-distant future, one that stands up for  those Americans who asked nothing more than the chance to one day stand  up for themselves. I yield the floor.”

2 responses to “GOP Fails to Protect the Unborn — Mike Lee”

  1. Elizabeth Garlock says:

    God Bless Senator Mike Lee for the courage to speak the TRUTH ! If we had more “Statesmen” like him (instead of “Politicians” and “RINO’s” talking our of both sides of their mouths and failing to vote “constitutionally” we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in.

  2. Linda Stowell says:

    Thank you Senator Lee for expressing so well to congress the way I and most of my family and friends feel. You voiced our sentiments with courage and integrity!

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