The U.S. House passed an omnibus appropriations bill (HR 3354) yesterday that consolidates into one piece of legislation all twelve of the big appropriations measures. This is a first step toward normalizing the funding process – which has been in tatters for many years.
What caught our eye about this development was the pro-Life content of the spending measure.
Buried in the section of the bill to fund the Department of Health & Human Services is language to defund Planned Parenthood. The Republican House directs that none of the money in the budget can be given to organizations that perform abortion. Instead, that money is re-directed toward actual health care providers.
In addition, the House bill would prohibit the use of federal funds in experimental research projects using tissue harvested from aborted babies.
There are dozens of other pro-Life measures written into the bill – including a prohibition of funding for the UN Population Fund and Conscience Protections for medical personnel.
That is terrific news. But it immediately raises the question: What next? Is there any chance that the U.S. Senate could pass this appropriation bill and get it to the President’s desk? We believe that this legislation is subject to the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster rule. If so, then the Democrat minority will certainly exercise its veto power and stop this bill from even being voted on.
Which brings us to the conclusion that it is time for the Senate leadership to end the filibuster rule – at least with respect to the budgeting and appropriation process. This is at the heart of the powers and Constitutional responsibilities of Congress. Yet dysfunction has become the norm. Year after year we witness the fiasco of continuing resolutions and perpetual funding of programs and agencies a majority in Congress do not support.
Recovering a rational spending process would go a long way toward rebuilding the public trust in Congress as an institution. But it will require Sen. McConnell and Senate Republicans to take the courageous step of revamping the rules best left to an era long since passed.
We pray the Republicans in the Senate find the will to pass the House appropriations measure.