Manchin’s ‘red line’ on abortion splits Dems

Add one more element of intraparty drama to Democrats’ potential “social infrastructure” reconciliation bill: the Hyde amendment.

Democrats are clashing over whether to include in their sweeping spending plan a decades-old amendment that blocks Medicaid and other federal health programs from being used to cover abortions.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), already a key stumbling block to Democratic unity on the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, has drawn a line in the sand around the issue, but others in the party are split over whether to include the Hyde amendment in a portion of the spending bill that would create a new federal program to provide health care coverage to low-income individuals in GOP-led states that haven’t adopted Medicaid expansions under the Affordable Care Act.

In recent days, Manchin has signaled he would not support the package without the amendment, which bans the use of federal funds for abortions in most cases and has been included in annual government funding bills since it was introduced by then-Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) in the 1970s.

Manchin, who has long supported the amendment, has called the provision “a red line” and said his party’s spending plan would be “dead on arrival” if it isn’t included.

Does it even belong? But there’s confusion among Democrats, including those who support the Hyde Amendment, as to whether the provision would need to be added to the reconciliation plan. And while a number of Democrats oppose the amendment, none have said publicly whether they would withhold support for the bill if it includes the provision as the party tries to maintain a unified front amid spending negotiations.

Past practice: The amendment is traditionally included in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spending bill passed by Congress every year. However, this year marked the first time in decades that the House Appropriations labor and health and human services subcommittee advanced the bill without the provision.