WASHINGTON - The House of Representatives passed a combination appropriations bill on Wednesday afternoon that renews the Hyde Amendment, preventing federal Medicaid funds from being used for abortions.
The bill passed by a vote of 226-203 on June 19 and contains funding for four separate spending areas, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the provisions of the Hyde Amendment.
The vote was cast almost entirely along party lines. All but seven Democrats voted for the spending bill, and no Republicans voted for it. A last-ditch bill amendment effort by Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley to remove the Hyde Amendment from the bill was rejected as a violation of the House procedural rules.
Democratic presidential candidates have expressed an increasing consensus in favor of overturning the Hyde Amendment, and scrapping the policy was part of the Democratic Party platform in 2016.
Former vice president Joe Biden, who currently leads the field of candidates for the Deomcratic nomination for president, recently announced a reversal of his position on the Hyde Amendment and now backs its repeal after over four decades of supporting the measure.
Despite widespread opposition to the policy within the Democratic Party, the Hyde Amendment was included in this year’s spending bill in recognition of the need for approval in the Republican-controlled Senate and be signed by President Donald Trump.
Senate Republicans have indicated that they would not vote for an appropriations bill without the Hyde Amendment, and it is considered unlikely that President Trump would sign such a bill.
The Hyde Amendment was first passed in 1977, and prohibited the use of federal money for abortions, except in cases where the woman’s life is at risk. The amendment was slightly modified in 1994, when exceptions were added for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest.
The Hyde Amendment applying only to federal funds, individual states are free to use their own Medicaid funds for abortions.