Upon the Republican Party winning a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, Marco Antonio Rubio, the junior U.S. Senator from Florida (and what some are calling the rising star of the Tea Party), said “We make a great mistake if we believe that tonight these results are somehow an embrace of the Republican Party. What they are is a second chance, a second chance for Republicans to be what they said they were going to be not so long ago.”
Not so long ago the Republican Party was without question the party of life. It was the party that protected the traditional family. It was the party that opposed reckless government spending, government debt, and spiraling deficits. It was the party that opposed tax increases that drained the family budget.
The Tea Party platform calls for reduced government spending, (1) lower taxes, (2) and reducing the national debt and the federal deficit. (3)
It sounds like Reaganomics. Not so long ago the Republican Party platform and the Tea Party platform would have been interchangeable.If you blend this fiscal platform with Rep. Chris Smith’s (R-N.J.) observation that the 112th Congress is “the arguably most pro-life House ever,” (4) and Speaker of the House John Boehner’s (R-Oh.) statement that “he wants to be the most ‘pro-life speaker in history,’” a second chance looks like a welcome change from the 111th Congress.
Senator Rubio was spot-on. A Republican majority in the House of Representatives is not an embrace of the Republican Party. It is the voters’ refusal to put the pro-tax, pro-big government, pro-death party back in control of the legislative branch of the federal government. It is a second chance for Republicans to be what they were not so long ago. As the Washington Post queried: “The Tea Party = The Republican Party?” (5) Let’s hope that the answer is yes, and that the House embraces Senator Rubio’s philosophy.
It looks like the 112th Congress is on track right out of the gate. The first order of business in the new House was to overturn the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (Obamacare), characterized by some as the biggest mistake made by the 111th Congress. It stands for everything that the Republicans were not, not so long ago—increased costs, bigger government and taxpayer-funded abortion. In the Senate, all 47 Republicans voted to fully repeal Obamacare, but the Senate vote was along party lines, and failed 51-47. (6)
The Obamacare question remains in the courts, however. The same week as the Senate vote on Obamacare, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson for the Northern District of Florida ruled the individual mandate in Obamacare unconstitutional and, consequently, struck the entire law (appeal pending). Meanwhile, the D.C.
Circuit agreed to fast-track an appeal of another challenge to Obamacare. It is probable other courts will also fast-track these cases since implementation of the law is underway, and time is of the essence in the final resolution of constitutionality. (7)
The same week as the Senate vote on Obamacare, House leadership introduced several other pieces of pro-life legislation: a government-wide permanent ban on funding abortion; (8) a proposal to remove all abortion funding from Obamacare (9) (both bills would also codify the HydeWeldon conscience protection provision to protect health care entities that refuse to participate in abortion); the “Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act,” (which would prevent federal family planning money under Title X from going to any organization if they perform abortions.) (10) The last bill contained the same language as a bill rejected by the 111th Congress, H.R. 614, creating a perfect opportunity for the 112th Congress to demonstrate the change between it and its predecessor.
The pro-life proposals took on new urgency as the budget debate got underway. Consistent with the mandate to get the government’s fiscal house in order, the House passed a 2011 budget February 18. The budget contained five solidly prolife provisions that would simultaneously reduce unnecessary government spending:
1: Removal of Abortion Funding in the District of Columbia; 2: Restoration of the Mexico City Policy and UNFPA (no funding for foreign nongovernmental organizations that promote or perform elective abortion, and no funding for the United Nations Population Fund, which participates in China’s coercive one child policy); 3: Defunding Title X (Title X is the domestic family planning program); 4: Reduction of International Population Control and Family Planning Funding(funding for international family planning/reproductive health was reduced from $648 million in FY10 to $440 million); 5: Defunding Planned Parenthood (no federal funds may be made available to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider). (11)
As we have all watched during the past few weeks, the Senate rejected the House budget, initiating a series of continuing resolutions to keep the government afloat for the short-term. None of these continuing resolutions contained the prolife amendments. It remains to be seen what the long-term budget will contain, and whether there will be any long-term success in passing pro-life legislation with the current Senate.
Of all the pro-life legislative efforts the past few months have seen, the amendment removing funding for Planned Parenthood has sparked the most vocal public controversy. This is perhaps a result of Planned Parenthood’s need for damage control due to the recent exposure of their employees’ willingness to aid and abet sex trafficking, (12) which was part of the momentum for defunding the business.
The willingness of Planned Parenthood to comply in the sexual abuse of minors has long been no secret, as illustrated by the Ohio case, Roe v. Planned Parenthood (13) in which a girl and her parents sued Planned Parenthood for, among other things, failure to comply with their legal duty to provide informed consent and to report suspected abuse.
Whatever the ultimate outcome in Congress, the pressure is on. This is evidenced by the outcome of the Congressional election itself, and the priority the new Congress has put on introducing life-affirming legislation. It is time to live up to the promise of not so long ago. As we watch, with renewed hope, this change in Congress take shape, LLDF will continue its mission to give the innocent and helpless a voice in the law—looking forward to a day when defense of innocent human life will be the law of the land.
1-Gallup: Tea Party’s top concerns are debt, size of government The Hill, July 5, 2010.
2-Tea Party D.C. March: “Lower Taxes and Less Spending” Fiscal Times, September 12, 2010.
3-Gallup: Tea Party’s top concerns are debt, size of government The Hill, July 5, 2010; Tea Party D.C. March: “Lower Taxes and Less Spending” Fiscal Times, September 12, 2010.
5-The Washington Post raised the question in a July 6, 2010 article, Tea Party = Republican Party?
6-Pro-life Democrats, Senators Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, did not vote for repeal. Had they done so, pro-abortion Vice President Biden would have no doubt voted to break a 50-50 tie vote against repeal, and even if both houses passed a repeal, President Obama would be likely to veto.
7-See http://www.lifenews.com/2011/01/31/judge-declares-pro-abortion-obamacareunconstitutional/, http://www.lifenews.com/2011/03/03/judge-issues-stay-onobamacare-ruling-forces-admin-to-appeal/ and http://www.lifenews.com/2011/03/18/federal-appeals-court-fast-tracks-pro-lifeobamacare-lawsuit/
8-HR 3. No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, introduced by Pro-life Caucus Co-Chairs Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.).
9-HR 358. The Protect Life Act, introduced by Representatives Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Joe Pitts (R-Pa.).
10-HR 217 Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), with 198 co-sponsors.
11-Note that the Pence Amendment passed by a vote of 240-185-1. Video of pro-life speeches in favor of the Pence Amendment can be found on YouTube. Similar legislation had previously also been introduced in the Senate by Senator David Vitter of Louisiana.
13-See Roe v. Planned Parenthood, case update section.