S02E04: H.R. 3 Compared to Hyde

You will notice that this episode, unlike all previous ones, is sponsored. We would like to thank GovTrack.us for helping us afford to keep producing 90 Second Summaries. If you are interested in sponsoring one or more episodes in the future, please contact us for more details. Full disclosure: Josh Tauberer, who created and runs GovTrack.us, is an active advisor to Main Street Insider and was fundamental in helping us develop the prototype, or pilot episode if you will, of 90 Second Summaries.

This week, we look at H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, and discuss how this proposal differs from the long-standing Hyde Amendment. Beyond the “forcible rape” controversy, which is expected to be resolved at the next opportunity to markup the bill, H.R. 3 represents the most aggressive attempt to expand upon the Hyde Amendment since it was first enacted in 1976. That is why we chose to summarize this bill as it compares to Hyde (if you need more info about the Hyde Amendment, you can find a link to learn more at the bottom of the page).

And this week’s episode comes with a bonus video! David Waldman, the Editor in Chief of Congress Matters and our own Public Affairs Director, speaks in depth about the dangerous precedent that hides in H.R. 3. You can find that video below.

Lastly, in order to properly thank our sponsor without digging into the precious 90 seconds we have to summarize complicated pieces of legislation and other policy proposals, we have added a little bumper time. But we guarantee that every bit of summary fits into 90 seconds, and we introduced a countdown clock to prove it.

What’s that you say? Get on with it? Sure thing…

More below the fold…

David Waldman warns of the dangerous precedent hiding in H.R. 3:

90 Second Summaries: Season 2, Episode 4
H.R. 3: No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act
Differences from the Hyde Amendment
Introduced 1/20/2011
Sponsor: Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ4)
Click here to download this summary (pdf)

Cosponsors: 205 (10 Democrats, 195 Republicans). Full list at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:HR00003:@@@P

Status: Assigned to Judiciary Committee, hearing held 2/8/11. Also assigned to Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees. A Judiciary Committee markup is expected in the coming weeks.
Senate Companion: None as of 2/15/11.

Purpose: The Hyde Amendment, first enacted in 1976 as an attachment to the Labor-HHS appropriations bill, and re-approved every year thereafter, bans the use of federal funding for abortions through Medicaid and related programs. While the Hyde Amendment has never been codified as a permanent law, numerous attempts have been made by anti-abortion activists to strengthen and expand upon Hyde in the years since. H.R. 3 represents this movement’s most aggressive and far-reaching attempt to date.

Summary: H.R. 3 takes a number of steps beyond the Hyde Amendment in both structure and substance. Specifics include:

• Codifies the Hyde Amendment concept into federal law;
• Extends the ban to any health care plan that accepts federal funds, regardless of whether those particular funds are being used to provide abortions;
• Includes tax exemptions and other benefits in the definition of “federal funds”. This is a dramatic expansion of scope that will raise costs for customers of the 87% of all private insurance plans that currently do cover abortion.

If enacted, this bill would likely cause most private health plans to drop abortion coverage due to the denial of tax benefits to any plan that includes such coverage.

Note: The legislation as introduced tightens the traditional exemption for cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother, narrowing the definition of rape to “forcible rape” and only exempting incest of the victim is a minor. Facing pressure from supporters of women’s rights, the sponsor has announced the language will be reverted to that of Hyde.

CBO Score: none provided.

Supporters: Most Republicans, social conservative organizations

• Supporters publicly claim H.R. 3 is simply meant to codify the principles of Hyde into law.

Opponents: Most Democrats, women’s rights organizations, ACLU, etc.

• Opponents see the bill as an unprecedented assault on women’s right to choose that will drastically limit access to abortions for those without the ability to pay. Furthermore, some believe that including tax expenditures in the scope of federal funding selectively uses the tax code to attack a key liberal priority, similar to the concept behind the “Istook amendment” of the 1990s. This presents a dangerous precedent that conservatives could use to defund targeted Democratic-aligned constituencies and institutions.

Further links
Full bill text: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h112-3
Official CRS Summary: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-3&tab=summary
Link to Judiciary Committee hearing page with testimony: http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/hear_02082011.html
Rep. Smith press release: http://chrissmith.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=220960
Article on opponents: http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/02/dem-women-unimpressed-with-new-house-abortion-bill.php
David Waldman article on H.R. 3′s connection to Istook: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/02/02/940765/-HR-3-hides-even-bigger-dangers-than-redefinition-of-rape
PoliticalCorrection.org on the bill’s expansion of Hyde: http://politicalcorrection.org/factcheck/201101260004
OMB Watch summary of the Istook Amendment: http://www.ombwatch.org/node/368
Wikipedia Article on the Hyde Amendment http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyde_Amendment

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