Actions In House Appropriations Committee Cause For Celebration

June 21, 2012 By Public Affairs Office

Washington—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops(USCCB) Office of Government Relations reacted to several positive actionstaken yesterday by the House Appropriations Committee.An amendment sponsored by Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.)keeps the federal government from contracting for "multi-state plans" thatinclude elective abortions under the health care reform act. The Committee alsorejected an attempt to weaken the longstanding ban on use of federallyappropriated funds for abortions in the District of Columbia.

Inaddition, the Committee approved full funds for scholarships to assistlow-income District of Columbia students who want to attend private schools.

The statement by Jayd Henricks, Director of USCCB Officeof Government Relations, follows:

Statement of Jayd Henricks

Director, USCCB Office of Government Relations

House Appropriations Committee votes

June 21, 2012

In consideringthe Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill for FiscalYear 2013, the Committee voted 28-to-20 to keep elective abortions out of all"multi-state plans" made available across the country under the Affordable CareAct (ACA).

For many yearsthe Smith amendment to this bill has kept elective abortions out of all healthplans in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP).Under the ACA, the Office of PersonnelManagement (OPM) that manages this program will have a new responsibility tocontract with insurance issuers to make two or more multi-state plans availableto the public through every state health care exchange.Here the OPM is instructed by Congress to actas it does in administering FEHBP, but with one important and troublingexception: All but one of the multi-state plans can include elective abortions,and even receive federal tax credit subsidies.The amendment offered by Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) corrects thisglaring contradiction in the law, so the federal government will not contractfor and actively promote abortion coverage contrary to longstanding federal policy.

By a vote of 26to 21, the Committee also rejected an attempt to weaken the longstanding ban onuse of federally appropriated funds for abortions in the District of Columbia.

Finally, weapplaud the Committee's appropriation of the full $60,000,000 for D.C. schoolsauthorized under the Scholarship for Opportunities and Results Act (SOAR).The funds will be evenly divided among publicschools, charter schools, and the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program assistinglow-income D.C. residents who wish to attend private schools.This latter program has been very popular andhas many children on the waiting list for scholarship assistance.

We urge bothHouse and Senate to ensure that these important provisions are retained in thefinal appropriations act.


Keywords:USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,Office of Government Relations, abortion, Affordable Care Act, FEHBP, OPM, Rep.Alan Nunnelee, Jayd Henricks, SOAR, Affordable Care Act, House AppropriationsCommittee

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