". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


House Conservatives Are Fighting Back against Biden’s Extremism, One Appropriations Bill at a Time

September 28, 2023

This week, members of Congress are working against the clock to pass appropriations bills to fund the federal government for the coming year. These bills play a central role in determining how Americans’ taxpayer dollars are spent — both for good and for bad. While averting a government shutdown by Saturday has been the media’s focus, conservatives in the House have been fighting hard to defend life, natural marriage, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion these past few months. They have recognized that appropriations legislation that would merely maintain the status quo simply isn’t sufficient under the Biden administration and have taken bold steps to push back against the administration’s radical agenda.

 Very few Americans have time to carefully read even one of these massive appropriations bills, so here are some highlights of how House conservatives have championed family values in this year’s appropriations legislation:

  • The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) was added to 11 out of 12 House appropriations bills this year, all except the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations (SFOPS) bill. FADA protects Americans who believe in natural marriage from government discrimination, including things like losing a government job or being denied a government benefit or contract solely because of a belief that marriage is, or should be, between one man and one woman.
  • All bills contain the applicable longstanding pro-life riders such as the Hyde, Weldon, and Helms amendments to ensure that funds are not used to:
    • pay for abortions;
    • lobby for or against abortion;
    • discriminate against health care providers that decline to provide abortions or contraception;
    • fund unethical research resulting in the creation, harm, or destruction of human embryos; or
    • further involuntary sterilization or coerced abortion.
  • Six of the 12 bills — the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor HHS) bill, the SFOPS bill, the Military Construction, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon/VA) bill, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies (Agriculture) bill, and the Department of Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (T-HUD) bill — contain provisions to prohibit the flying of Pride flags at government facilities.
  • Six bills — the Labor HHS bill, the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) bill, the MilCon/VA bill, the Department of Defense (Defense) bill, the Energy and Water (E&W) bill, and the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies (Interior) bill — prohibit funds for DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiatives, including a 2021 Biden executive order in which he directed the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to promote DEI in the federal workforce, including pro-LGBT initiatives.
  • Five bills — Labor HHS, FSGG, MilCon/VA, Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security bill — prohibit funds from being used for gender transition procedures (the provision in the Homeland Security bill specifically applies to ICE detainees).
  • Three bills — the Department of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) bill, as well as the FSGG and Homeland Security bills — defund activities related to censorship (specifically, classifying information as “mis-, dis-, or mal-information”) or funding organizations that pressure social media companies to censor speech. The Homeland Security bill specifically prohibits funding for a Disinformation Governance Board.
  • The Labor HHS bill was particularly strong, containing over a dozen new provisions and positive changes from last year’s bill. One of the most notable things was that it completely eliminated funding for Title X family planning programs (which pay for drugs and devices that can destroy human embryos, bypass parental consent laws for minors, and heavily subsidize abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood). The bill also eliminated funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs in favor of Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) programs. It also bars funding for affiliates of Planned Parenthood, a Biden SOGI executive order on “Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation,” two Biden executive orders intended to increase access to abortion in states with pro-life laws, and a proposed ED rule to weaken Title IX.
  • The CJS bill included several positive new provisions, including prohibiting funding to carry out Attorney General Merrick Garland’s memo on parents at school board meetings (where he seemed to compare them to domestic terrorists) as well as a provision prohibiting funding for targeting parents who speak up at school board meetings. The bill also prohibits federal funds from being used for litigation on laws related to gender identity (possibly in response to the Biden administration’s lawsuit against Tennessee’s law protecting minors from gender transition procedures). The bill also contains a provision prohibiting DOJ funds from being used to discriminate against religious students who get financial assistance for college or to “denigrate” their beliefs.
  • In addition to the provisions mentioned above, the House FSGG bill would require Washington, D.C. to submit a report to congressional committees on its compliance with the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (likely motivated by the finding of the “DC Five” last year). It also prohibits funds from being used to carry out D.C.’s Reproductive Health Nondiscrimination Act of 2014 and would repeal the District’s 2016 law legalizing physician-assisted suicide.
  • The MilCon/VA bill would defund the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) abortion rule allowing the VA to carry out abortions and counsel in favor of them.
  • The Defense bill bars funding for the Biden administration’s policy to pay for military servicemembers to travel to other states to receive abortions. It also prohibits funding for “Drag Queen Story Hour” for kids and drag queens in recruitment.
  • The SFOPS bill contains a prohibition on funding NGOs that promote gender ideology as well as funding for drag shows. The bill also includes an expanded version of the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits foreign non-governmental organizations that receive U.S. funding from using those funds to carry out or promote abortions.
  • The Agriculture bill would nullify the FDA’s move to relax the safety restrictions for the chemical abortion drug, mifepristone, which allowed women to obtain the drug via mail without seeing a physician in person.

It should speak volumes that any of these provisions are even necessary. While liberals in Congress may accuse conservatives of putting forth such legislation merely to stoke political fires, it should be asked who started the fires in the first place.

Whatever happens in the appropriations process, House Republicans deserve to be recognized for countering the Biden administration’s radicalism and standing strong for conservative values like life, family, and religious freedom.

Chantel Hoyt serves as legislative assistant at Family Research Council.