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Omnibus Spending Bill Maintains Federal Abortion Funding Restrictions, Lacks New Abortion-Related Riders

Omnibus Spending Bill Maintains Federal Abortion Funding Restrictions, Lacks New Abortion-Related Riders

January 14, 2014 — House and Senate budget negotiators on Monday unveiled an omnibus spending bill that would keep the government funded through September, maintain spending levels to implement the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) and ease some of the sequester's across-the-board spending cuts, the New York Times reports (Weisman, New York Times, 1/13).

The package, which includes all 12 appropriations bills, is slated for votes in both chambers this week, with the measure potentially reaching President Obama by the end of the week (Lesniewski, "#WGDB," Roll Call, 1/13).

Abortion-Related Provision

The agreement maintains a longstanding ban on federal funding for abortion in nearly all cases, including under Medicaid, for federal prisoners and for publicly funded abortion services in the District of Columbia (Bettelheim, CQ Roll Call, 1/14). The spending agreement's financial services portion, which provides federal funding for the District of Columbia, also prohibits the district using its own locally derived money for abortions (Marcos, CQ Roll Call, 1/13).

There are "no new abortion riders" in the package, said Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who noted that she and House Appropriations Committee Chair Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) had to resolve about 134 proposed riders ("#WGDB," Roll Call, 1/13).

In a win for Senate negotiators, the final State-Foreign Operations portion of the package does not include an antiabortion provision from the House version that attempted to restore restrictions on U.S. funds for international groups (Starks, CQ Roll Call, 1/13). The policy, known as the "global gag rule" or Mexico City policy, blocks U.S. foreign aid to organizations that use their own money to offer abortion services or provide information about or referrals for abortion services. President Obama repealed the policy shortly after taking office in 2009 (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/10/12).

Appropriations To Address Military Sexual Assault

In accordance with the defense authorization bill approved last month, the agreement would allocate $157 million for the military's sexual assault prevention programs and $25 million to expand a program that provides counsel for survivors of sexual assault in the military (Montgomery/O'Keefe, Washington Post, 1/13).