GOP uses emergency bill for coronavirus testing to fight about abortion


The White House is trying to kill legislation to fund coronavirus testing by adding anti-abortion language to it.

The White House is objecting to a Democratic bill that would fund coronavirus testing kits for all Americans by demanding that unrelated anti-abortion language be added to the legislation.

House Democrats introduced the "Families First" bill on Thursday, which, along with providing funding for coronavirus test kits, would also call for mandatory paid sick leave for all workers, and ensure that poor Americans hurt by the economic impact of the virus would have access to food security.

But the White House is opposed to the bill, with Donald Trump saying that the bill is filled with "goodies" Democrats have wanted to pass for years.

And in an apparent effort to build opposition to the bill, Republicans, including first son Donald Trump Jr., are claiming the $1 billion in funding the Democratic bill would make available for coronavirus testing would actually be an "abortion slush fund."

"Multiple" unnamed White House officials spoke to the right-wing Daily Caller to falsely claim that, "Under the guise of protecting people, Speaker Pelosi is working to make sure taxpayer dollars are spent covering abortion."

They are calling on Democrats to add the Hyde Amendment — which prohibits federal funding from being used on abortions — to be added to the bill.

There is absolutely no evidence that the funding the Democratic bill calls for would go toward abortion.

In fact, House Democrats filed what's called a "manager's amendment," which makes clear that the funding can only be used for "COVID-19 diagnostic tests and related administration or service costs."

"Claims reimbursed under this section would be limited to those for uninsured individuals not eligible for other COVID-19 testing and services assistance included in the bill," reads a summary of the amendment from the House Rules Committee.

"Republicans are claiming that it is possible funding for coronavirus testing could be used for abortions because it falls outside the annual appropriations process so Hyde Amendment doesn't apply," a House Democratic aide said in an interview. "We completely disagree with that interpretation."

The White House did not return a request for comment on how they determined that coronavirus testing funding would be used on abortion.

Abortion rights groups are condemning the effort by Republicans to try and add anti-abortion language to the bill.

"It's time for the White House to stop attacking abortion and start addressing this very real public health emergency. Nothing should hold up a much-needed coronavirus response, especially not an opportunistic play to attack access to abortion," Erica Sackin, senior director of communications for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said.

This is not the first time Republicans have tried to add unrelated anti-abortion language to legislation.

Just last month, House Republicans unsuccessfully tried to add anti-abortion language to legislation that bans vaping products for people under the age of 21.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.