The “Manchin Factor” Death Nail: The Hyde Amendment

What are the contents of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation budget bill proposed in Congress? It’s hard to say because the actual bill, including the 1000+ pages of details, has not been released to “everyone” — just a select few. But one thing is certain: it reeks of far-left utopian spending to support every program and giveaway Democrats can imagine. And all at taxpayer expense.

For a few moments, let’s forget about the back-and-forth on the need and/or necessity of each of the contained partisan ideals. Let’s chat about what we KNOW it contains: The Hyde Amendment.

This “amendment” has been around for decades. It’s an “agreement” rather than an actual amendment that is attached to one specific bill. Its purpose was to assure that no federal funding — taxpayer dollars — would be used to fund abortions. It in NO way stops abortions; rather, it guarantees federal tax dollars do not fund the procedure.

Joe Biden, who formerly was Pro-Choice, “flipped the switch” that controls his position on the Hyde Amendment. As a moderate Democrat in the Senate (and as a Catholic), Biden for decades was Pro-Life. When it became politically expedient for him, he, as many other lawmakers, did “the 180.” He not only supports abortion, but he also wants the federal government to pay for it.

Needless to say, that flies in the faces of millions of Americans.

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to take up a Mississippi case this session that may impact Roe v. Wade and could flip the landscape of the legalization of abortion. But what is pending now will be added fodder for those on either side of the Hyde Amendment. The gigantic pending reconciliation bill’s success in the Senate lies totally in the hands of a few Senators, one of which is West Virginia’s Joe Manchin.

Without the Hyde Amendment as part of this pending legislation, Manchin could stop the entire bill.

The “Manchin Factor”

Joe Manchin has made clear for months that the administration’s sprawling $3.5 trillion social spending package is too large, and just as progressives seemed to agree that the top-line number could be whittled down somewhat, the moderate Democrat drew another line in the sand, this one underscoring the Hyde Amendment.

The amendment represents a decades-long agreement by both parties that prohibits federal dollars from funding abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger. Manchin wants it included in the spending bill. The White House does not. Thus has emerged another obstacle to passing the president’s legislative agenda.

When asked Monday about federal funding for abortion, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that “the president opposes the Hyde Amendment. That has not changed.”

Manchin was just as adamant last week in an interview with National Review. As hopes for the bipartisan physical infrastructure bill’s passage crumbled, he insisted on the steps of the Capitol that “we are not taking the Hyde amendment off. Hyde is going to be” part of the larger “human infrastructure” measure. Knowing that his party can’t afford to lose a single vote, Manchin was insistent that Hyde be included in the reconciliation package, saying, “That’s dead on arrival if that’s gone.”

The senator took that hard line on Wednesday. By Sunday, progressives were countering on the weekend shows with their own ultimatums. Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal, asked by CNN’s Dana Bash if she would support a bill that included the abortion-funding prohibition, replied that she would not.“Let’s just wait. This is a negotiation, and we’ve got to continue to move this forward, but the Hyde Amendment is something that the majority of the country does not support,” added Jayapal, whose caucus had flexed its muscles to stifle a vote last week on the bipartisan package when there wasn’t an agreement on the costlier bill.

Democrats recognize the danger posed by the divide. This includes the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin of Illinois, who told CNN before Jayapal came on air that he has supported legislation with and without the amendment previously. He will support including it again in the spending package, Durbin indicated, because “I don’t want to let the package break down over that issue.”

Republicans are more than happy to let Democrats fight among themselves over the issue. Conservatives uniformly oppose the reconciliation package and seem content to fan any flames in hopes of keeping the fire going. Heritage Action, for instance, stirred the pot by noting that Biden has, in fact, and recently, changed his position.

“Biden is a flip-flopping politician who supported Hyde for decades before pandering to progressives in 2019 by coming out in support of taxpayer funding for abortion,” the group said in a tweet that linked to an article detailing how Biden went from backing the amendment to opposing it ahead of the 2020 presidential primary.

Manchin, meanwhile, has enjoyed the support of the pro-life lobby throughout negotiations. The Susan B. Anthony List has launched a months-long, six-figure ad campaign on West Virginia airwaves encouraging voters there to “thank Manchin for not forcing us to pay for abortions.” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of that anti-abortion group, told RealClearPolitics that “there has long been a consensus among the American people — regardless of party — that taxpayers should never be forced to pay for abortions. We thank Senator Manchin for standing up for this consensus and the pro-life values of his West Virginia constituents.”

This is not the first time Manchin has bucked his party on the issue. During the 2019 State of the Union address, he was the only Democrat to join Republicans in a standing ovation for then-President Trump when he called for a 20-week abortion ban, a moment that earned him an icy rebuke from New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was seated in the row behind him.

Photographers captured that moment, and while Trump’s proposed ban never materialized, Manchin’s position has not changed. Unless the senator or Democrats give in, the disagreement over federal funding of abortion could end up tanking a centerpiece of Biden’s domestic agenda.

Summary

No matter what side of this controversy you support, there is one critical point that those who support federal funding of abortion or not need to consider. And that’s NOT to do with who pays the bill.

What if someday it is conclusively decided by Science that life really DOES begin at inception? How will all those millions who have chosen abortion feel to know they were complicit in the death of a child?

Not knowing a fact for certain can sometimes be easier than knowing the truth. But that’s just a postponement of reality. I cannot fathom the horror that those people would feel in discovering the reality of life and death firsthand — especially involving their own child.

The REAL conundrum of understanding this to me begins and ends at this point: knowing there is even a slight possibility that a fetus “might” be alive seems to be the ONLY factor that should be considered by anyone facing this challenge. How so?

There are millions of people on Earth who cannot give birth to a baby. A huge majority of those people would love to adopt a child. Abortion not only destroys a conceived being, but it also destroys the opportunities of those numerous people who would gladly raise each of those aborted babies.

No matter how we view the issue, massive emotional and psychological questions may never be answered. Knowing that, we all need to come to a single conclusion about this entire process:

We don’t know the answer!

Everyone “thinks” they know. But the reality is we do NOT know at this point.

Here’s a novel idea: why not talk to others about our opinions on the matter, listen to the opinions of others, and each draw our own conclusions. We need to discontinue the irrational rhetoric that is screamed incessantly by those entrenched in both sides of the matter and pray for those with opposite views.

We’re all humans! No one gets everything right every time. The weaponization of anything used in a faux battle in the abortion conflict is nauseating to me. Yes, “convince” one with an opposing view. But it and when that is unsuccessful, let’s resolve this conflict by adopting this: “We’ll just agree to disagree.” We’ve got to get through this as Americans.

By the way, there is no way I can reconcile the federal government’s funding of abortion using federal tax dollars.

By the way, that reconciliation budget bill is full of pork, partisan slush funds for payment for only God knows, and it needs to be shelved until “regular order” in Congress is embraced to examine every item it contains. $3.5 trillion dollars in spending MUST be scrutinized exhaustively to assure Americans what it contains would be beneficial to Americans. In this case, however, it’s more important to guarantee that NONE of the money will be wasted. (Fat chance THAT’S going to happen!)

To that end, I agree with Joe Manchin and hope he sticks to his guns.

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