Here Comes the Big Red Agenda: House GOP to Vote on Pro-Life Protections in First Two Weeks
Republican leaders in the House of Representatives plan to ring in the new year with a conservative, pro-life agenda that proves elections have consequences. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) announced that “in the first two weeks of the Republican majority,” Congress will vote on 11 “commonsense measures” focused on protecting babies born alive during botched abortions, protecting taxpayers from funding abortion-on-demand, commending pregnancy resource centers, beefing up border security, protecting U.S. energy resources, and taking a tougher stance against the People’s Republic of China. “The American people spoke on November 8th and decided it was time for a new direction,” Scalise wrote in a letter to his colleagues on December 30.
Although the midterm’s big red wave did not materialize, “we have a red agenda that has won the day, and that agenda will move forward,” said former Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), who now serves as Special Adviser to the President at Family Research Council, on “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” Tuesday afternoon. “It’s going to be a breath of fresh air for the American people.”
Scalise’s letter promised to bring several pro-life measures to the floor, including:
- The “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection” Act, which says babies delivered during botched abortions must be given the same medical treatment a doctor would provide to any other child. “If an abortion results in the live birth of an infant, the infant is a legal person for all purposes under the laws of the United States, and entitled to all the protections of such laws,” it says. Abortionists who violate the law will be penalized with a fine and/or up to five years in prison. The law prevents women who undergo abortions from being prosecuted but allows them to sue abortionists in civil court for financial remuneration, including punitive damages. Scalise’s expedited action on the bill marks a pronounced change from the reign of recently retired Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “In 2019, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to bring this bill up for a vote in the House over 80 times,” noted FRC Director of Federal Affairs Connor Semelsberger.
- The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure” Act bars doctors who work for the federal government from carrying out abortions, restricts federal funds from going to “any abortion” (except in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother), and stops taxpayer dollars from funding health benefits that cover abortion. The bill would remove any health care plan that covers abortion from consideration as a qualified plan under Obamacare/the Affordable Care Act, but permits individuals to purchase separate plans that include abortion coverage. It also allows the treatment of “any infection, injury, disease, or disorder that has been caused by or exacerbated by” botched abortions.
- A resolution condemning the recent attacks on pro-life facilities, groups, and churches. The resolution expresses the sense of Congress opposing “radical anti-life advocates [who] have defaced, vandalized, and caused destruction to over 100 pro-life facilities, groups, and churches” and “calls upon the Biden Administration to use all appropriate law enforcement authorities to uphold public safety and to protect the rights of pro-life facilities, groups, and churches.” FRC documented dozens of physical assaults on pro-life women’s centers, including fire-bombings and arsons, since the unsolved leak of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization last May. A separate reportproduced by FRC’s Arielle Del Turco lists all 420 attacks on churches between 2018 and 2022. The annual number of such assaults nearly tripled over four years, according to Del Turco. While the Biden administration has arrested pro-life advocates who peacefully pray outside abortion facilities, not a single pro-abortion terrorist has been arrested. The congressional resolution closes by specifically recognizing “the sanctity of life and the important role pro-life facilities, groups, and churches play in supporting pregnant women.”
“Who we put in power matters,” Travis Weber, vice president for Policy and Government Affairs at Family Research Council, told The Washington Stand. “When those in elected office want to protect life, support families, and guard religious freedom, we see bills prioritized like those the House is scheduled to vote on next week.”
The other bills Scalise promised to bring to the floor would rescind funding of 87,000 new IRS agents, prohibit the Biden administration from withdrawing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for non-emergency reasons and bans the administration from exporting energy withdrawn from the reserve to China, establish a committee on America’s strategic competition with China, notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when illegal immigrants apply to purchase a firearm, and allow the administration to remove “an alien seeking entry to the United States who is inadmissible” for legal entry under the Immigration and Nationality Act. A final bill would tally the number of cases rogue district attorneys refuse to prosecute and the number of criminals they release.
Scalise said these bills “provide an indication of our bold agenda to come” over the next two years — a New Year’s resolution conservatives plan to assure House Republicans keep.
“This is just the beginning,” Weber told TWS. “The House will also now have the opportunity to ensure taxpayers are not funding harmful gender transition procedures, and to protect minors from being experimented on with such procedures, as well. The new Congress will also have further opportunities to protect the unborn, such as by prohibiting abortions based on Down syndrome. And to truly support life and family, Congress can get behind comprehensive legislation like Senator Rubio’s Providing for Life Act. Finally, the new Congress must not fail to address the need for federal religious freedom protections, as this right comes under increasing attack in today’s culture.”
Critics say these measures, even if passed, are unlikely to become law, as they would stall in the Democrat-controlled Senate or face a veto from President Joe Biden. Yet FRC President Tony Perkins said Tuesday the change in the tenor of legislation “provides a contrast” between the two parties’ visions for America’s future — a change Hice called “enormously enlightening.”
“I believe it sets the stage for a true choice for Americans in 2024,” Perkins concluded.
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.