President Biden has proposed a budget scrapping the Hyde amendment, an annual budget measure that prevents federal funding of elective abortions for Medicaid recipients and thus saves tens of thousands of lives from abortion each year.
In an interview with Bloomberg Government on Thursday, West Virginia Democratic senator Joe Manchin said: “I’m going to support Hyde in every way possible.”
Manchin’s commitment to protecting the Hyde amendment and his commitment to keep the filibuster will likely prevent the Hyde amendment from being eliminated outright in 2021 or 2022.
But even if Manchin protects the Hyde amendment as it applies to Medicaid, there is still a real threat that Democrats could allow taxpayer-funding of elective abortions in other programs in the next budget-reconciliation bill, just as they did in the $1.9 trillion “COVID relief” bill that was enacted in March.
Hours before a vote on final passage of that $1.9 trillion bill, the Senate voted to apply the Hyde amendment to it, and three Senate Democrats — Manchin, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and Tim Kaine of Virginia — joined all 50 Republicans to support the Hyde amendment. But the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the amendment ran afoul of budget reconciliation rules and needed 60 votes to pass. Manchin, Casey, and Kaine decided to vote for final passage of the bill anyway.
Manchin explained later that he voted for final passage because he “didn’t want to let “the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Manchin also said that he would like to retroactively apply the Hyde amendment to the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill during the appropriations process, but if he really had wanted to do everything he could to support the Hyde amendment he would have insisted back in March on removing the funding streams that could be used for abortion.
Of course, it remains to be seen if various slush funds in the COVID-relief bill that allow abortion funding are actually used to fund abortions, and a future reconciliation bill in which Medicaid or a “public option” funds elective abortions would be much worse. If Manchin really means that he’ll “support Hyde in every way possible,” that means drawing a red line and telling Chuck Schumer that any reconciliation bill that allows taxpayer funding of elective abortions won’t get his vote for final passage.