House State and Foreign Ops Funding Bill Contains First-of-Its-Kind Pro-Life, Pro-Family Protections
Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee approved the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPs) Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations Bill. The annual bill allocates funding to the subcommittee’s numerous governmental programs, and it’s a powerful tool to affect the direction of U.S. government agencies. During the markup period, committee Republicans voted down numerous amendments offered up by Democrats that could have directed American taxpayers to pay for abortions and LGBT activism abroad.
Some of these rejected provisions entailed:
- Providing funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which is known to support coercive abortions
- Allowing funding for drag shows
- Providing funding for hormone therapies or surgeries for gender transition procedures
While one might be tempted to think such provisions are unnecessary, the Biden administration is all too happy to direct funds to such programs if Congress does not give them limitations. In September 2022, the State Department awarded a $20,600 grant to an organization in Ecuador to “promote diversity and inclusion” through a drag show. Though the grant did not go through, Secretary of State Antony Blinken boldly defended the decision to fund the drag show at a congressional hearing earlier this year and made it clear that the State Department did not withdraw the grant offer. Without guardrails, the Biden administration will continue to direct substantial funds to woke programs meant to change the cultures of other countries.
This is why the new provisions added to this year’s SFOPS bill are critical. According to committee Republicans’ summary of the bill, it takes bold steps forward in advancing pro-life, pro-religious liberty, and pro-family values and should be championed for doing so. Notably, the bill increases oversight and transparency of prime and sub-partners to ensure American tax dollars do not fund abortion abroad. The bill maintains long-standing pro-life protections, including the Helms, Kemp-Kasten, Tiahrt, and Siljander amendments. It also includes the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy, which is an expanded version of the Mexico City Policy, which prevents U.S. government funds from going toward organizations that promote or refer for abortions.
A letter to the Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee released on July 12th signed by Family Research Council along with 17 other advocacy groups praised the bill. The letter expressed the groups’ “gratitude for the ways this committee is working to protect the unborn and women and girls.” After detailing a brief history of how House subcommittees have advocated against government support of abortion, the letter emphasized how “abortion is not health care and should not be incentivized through government funding.”
The bill also promotes religious freedom across the globe, an aspect of U.S. foreign policy that has been neglected under the Biden administration. The FY24 SFOPs bill acknowledges that “the faith community is significantly under-utilized” despite its role as the “backbone” for global development efforts. To combat this problem, the bill restores $50 million for international religious freedom efforts that was first put in place by the Trump administration.
The proposal also pushes back against progressive gender ideology by cutting off significant funding to the Gender Equity and Equality Action Fund, which has used vague definitions of “gender” to insert gender ideology into its programming. Funding for drag show events that expose children to gender confusion and pornographic imagery are also prohibited. Especially noteworthy is Sec. 7070 (e) from the bill, which prevents all funds allocated by the bill to be used by any group that “offers counseling regarding sex change surgeries for minors, promotes sex change surgeries for any reason as an option for minors, conducts or subsidizes sex change surgeries for minors, promotes the use of medications or other substances to halt the onset of puberty or sexual development of minors, or otherwise promotes transgenderism among minors.” This is a first-of-its-kind provision and an important victory in the fight to preserve our youth against the onslaught of a deceptive culture, one that wishes to profit off kids’ confusion by permanently damaging their bodies.
Even with these positive additions, the bill also successfully cuts much of the wasteful spending expended under the Biden administration. Particularly, the $52.5 billion suggested under FY24 decreases spending by 24% compared to the president’s budget request and 12% compared to last year’s bill, making it more efficient and less costly while still making leaps in advancing family values.
It is vital for Republicans in Congress to continue supporting legislation like the SFOPS bill to counter the Left’s legislative attacks against life and the family. One way is limiting funds spent on LGBT activist programs abroad. A recent Family Research Council reports details the current administration’s advocacy of LGBT ideology abroad. Groups like USAID and the State Department devote millions of dollars to implementing LGBT ideology into education programming, funding researching issues that pertain exclusively to LGBT individuals, and promoting sexual orientation and gender identity causes abroad. It is vital that Congress approves amendments such as those in the current SFOPS bill to combat the radical pursuit of LGBT expansion and “ideological colonialism” in foreign countries that do not wish to adopt these values.
In a press release from July 12th, Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.), a staunch advocate for pro-life and conservative values, expressed his support for of the SFOPS bill, which “clearly increases transparency and accountability with our foreign aid dollars and ensures the US provides true assistance to help those in need including unborn children and their mothers.” He elaborated on the importance of how “taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize abortion.”
Arielle Del Turco, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council, emphasized the same concern, commenting, “With the Biden administration at the helm, hard-earned American tax dollars have been going towards woke programs around the world funded by the U.S. government. House Republicans are taking a bold stand by pushing back on this and prohibiting government funds from going toward items that violate the conscience of many Americans.”
These remarks remind us of the influence funding and foreign aid have in advancing ideology. The current SFOPS bill is an inspiring example of legislators taking this bold stand. This should set the new bar for Republicans in Congress to work towards promoting legislation that advocates for the vulnerable, protects our country, and upholds the right to live according to our conscience.