Former Democratic operative and Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel once famously said that liberal radicals should “never let a serious crisis go to waste” and should look at a crisis as an opportunity to advance some aspect of their agenda that they could not otherwise advance. In that spirit, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently tried to use the coronavirus economic stimulus package as a vehicle to advance abortion by blocking the application of the so-called Hyde Amendment.
For decades, the US Congress has prevented abortion providers from receiving federal funds to perform abortions. This provision is called the Hyde Amendment and it has been included in virtually every federal funding bill. But numerous White House sources told the media that Pelosi sought to pass the coronavirus stimulus package without Hyde Amendment protections, thus opening a path to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to receive substantial federal funding to perform abortions.
The Pelosi gambit was so ill-received by the White House and Republicans in Congress that it threatened to bring negotiations on the coronavirus response to a halt. When word of Pelosi’s attempts began to hit the media, she withdrew her attempts and the stimulus package was adopted. However, Pelosi has pledged to continue to press the Trump Administration to remove the Hyde Amendment from federal funding bills.
Separately, the two remaining Democrat candidates for president, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, both have pledged to abandon the Hyde Amendment if they are elected. This will make abortion funding a key issue in the 2020 US presidential contest.