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House Cancels Plans To Vote on Education Bill With Antiabortion-Rights Amendment

House Cancels Plans To Vote on Education Bill With Antiabortion-Rights Amendment

March 2, 2015 — House lawmakers on Friday canceled plans to vote on an education bill (HR 5) that included a provision that would withhold federal funding from school districts where school-based health centers provide abortion-related information, Politico reports (Severns, Politico, 2/27).

According to CQ Roll Call, several factors contributed to House leaders' decision to delay the vote, including lawmakers' desire to prioritize consideration of funding for the Department of Homeland Security, growing conservative opposition to certain provisions and uncertainty over whether the measure would pass. House lawmakers had finished working on the underlying bill and amendments (Phenicie, CQ Roll Call, 2/27).

Democrats opposed the bill, and President Obama has said he would veto it if it reaches his desk, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Hefling, AP/Sacramento Bee, 2/27).

Background

House conservatives used a "manager's amendment" to add the abortion-related language to the Student Success Act, which aims to overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act (PL 107-110). Manager's amendments typically are used to make uncontroversial tweaks to legislation.

The amendment, authored by Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), would require school-based health centers in school districts that receive federal funding to certify that they do not provide information to students about abortion or perform abortions, even though school-based health centers already do not provide abortion services.

In addition, the bill would prohibit the health centers from providing students with "abortion related materials, referrals or directions" (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/27).

Next Steps

Senior Republican officials said they were not sure when a vote on the bill might occur, the AP/Bee reports (AP/Sacramento Bee, 2/27).

House Education and Workforce Committee Chair John Kline (R-Minn.) said he "expect[s]" that House lawmakers "will have an opportunity to finish this important work soon." Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), chair of the committee's Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee, said he is "confident" that lawmakers "will continue this effort in the coming weeks" (CQ Roll Call, 2/27).

Meanwhile, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and ranking member Rep. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) are working on their own legislation to overhaul NCLB (AP/Sacramento Bee, 2/27).