Veto Looms for Democrats’ Bill to Block Border Wall Spending, Fund Abortions Abroad

The White House on Tuesday issued a veto threat over a House Democratic spending bill that would increase funding for abortions abroad and ban construction of a southern border wall.

Democrats announced they would bring to the House floor for debate on Wednesday an appropriations bill to fund the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State, Education, Labor, Energy, and Health and Human Services.

“The bill provides investments needed to defend the nation against evolving threats, prepare for future challenges, and meet the needs of service members and military families. Additionally, the bill protects against misappropriation of Defense funds for a border wall,” a House Appropriations Committee bill summary says.

The Office of Management and Budget issued a formal statement of administration policy Tuesday objecting to several aspects of the bill, including increased spending levels and lack of conscience protections for professionals who could be forced by the government to violate their religious beliefs.

The latter includes being compelled to provide medical procedures, such as abortions, or forcing someone to provide birth control or abortion-inducing drugs.

“The administration strongly objects to language in section 8127 of the bill that would prohibit the use of FY 2020 or prior-year defense appropriations to construct barriers or security infrastructure along the southern border,” the OMB statement says.

On the spending side, the OMB statement says:

It would put the federal government on track to add nearly $2 trillion to deficits over 10 years, adding significantly to the national debt, which is already more than $22 trillion and rising.

Overall, according to the Congressional Budget Office, H.R. 2740 would spend $984.7 billion—$63.4 billion, or 6.9 percent, above the FY 2020 [b]udget request and $31.5 billion above the FY 2019 enacted level.

It concludes: “If H.R. 2740 were presented to the President in its current form, his advisors would recommend that he veto it.”

The spending-bill summary touts the measure’s “support for women’s reproductive rights” that would permanently repeal the so-called “Mexico City Policy” that prohibits U.S. tax dollars from funding abortions in foreign countries.

“[T]he bill that would effectively block the administration’s implementation of the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy, which prohibits the funding of foreign non-governmental organizations that promote or perform abortions,” the OMB statement says.

“The administration is also concerned that the bill restores unrequested funding for the United Nations Population Fund, an organization determined by the Secretary of State to support or participate in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”

Last month, Trump and the Department of Health and Human Services announced new protections for religious liberty and conscience rights, specifically for physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students, and faith-based charities to prevent them from being forced to violate their conscience. The Democrats’ bill would block funding for implementing these measures.

“The administration strongly objects to the inclusion of section 240 of the bill, which prohibits the [Health and Human Services] Office for Civil Rights from using appropriated funds to finalize, implement, or enforce the newly published conscience-protection final rule,” the OMB statement says. “This rule protects conscience rights for health care entities and professionals.”

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