HHS spending bill moves on without Hyde Amendment

A key House subcommittee on Monday cleared a spending bill for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) without including a decades-old rider prohibiting funding for abortions, kicking off what is likely to be a long and bruising fight.

For the first time in 40 years, the Hyde Amendment was excluded from the spending bill introduced and then cleared by the House Appropriations labor and health and human services subcommittee.

Background: The Hyde Amendment bans federal programs such as Medicaid from covering the costs of abortion services. The ban has been added to federal spending bills every year since 1976.

During the campaign, President Biden reversed his previous longtime support for the measure and pledged to end it after coming under intense pressure from fellow Democrats and advocacy groups. His $6 trillion budget request released in May does not include the amendment.

“We are finally doing what is right for our mothers, our families, our communities by striking this discriminatory amendment, once and for all,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said.

What’s next: The legislation now goes to the full Appropriations Committee for a markup and eventual vote.

But Republicans are ready for a fight, and are expected to try to reinstate the ban in the House during negotiations.

“Quite frankly, everyone in this room knows this bill will never pass the United States Senate without their inclusion,” said Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), the subcommittee’s top Republican.