As activists for abortion rights and autonomy for the District of Columbia prepare to fight D.C.-related policy riders in appropriations bills, an anti-abortion lawmaker is preparing to expand the battle to another front.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) is planning to introduce a bill that would require minors to receive parental consent before having an abortion and would prohibit non-doctors from performing the procedure. It would also exempt medical professionals and health care facilities from having to perform abortions if they object to the procedure on moral grounds.
The freshman lawmaker announced his intention to push the legislation on his Facebook page a few weeks ago, with little fanfare. Amash spokesman Will Adams told Roll Call on Wednesday that the language was still being drafted. Neither Adams nor Amash offered a firm timetable for introduction of the bill.
But Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) brought the news to wider attention on Tuesday night in a press release.
“Rep. Amash is spending time in the House meddling in my district, instead of attending to the needs of his own constituents,” Norton wrote. “His bill would overturn our local laws with no accountability to our residents. Republicans seem to be in copycat mode, trying to outdo one another in attacking women in this city and the city’s democratic right to govern itself.”
Norton was referencing another bill that would place restriction on abortions in D.C. The measure sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) would ban abortions in the District after 20 weeks, based on the argument made by some medical experts that the fetus can begin to feel pain at that point.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has sponsored a companion measure.
Legislative Branch Spending Bill Is Teed Up
Seven amendments will be considered on the House floor when the chamber debates its bill to fund the operations of Congress in fiscal 2013.
The House Rules Committee on Wednesday approved a rule governing floor debate for the $3.3 billion legislative branch appropriations bill, which excludes funding for Senate-only operations.
Senior GOP aides say the bill could be taken up as early as Friday, but more likely than not it will be pushed back until the House reconvenes after next week’s recess.
Of 26 amendments submitted by lawmakers to Rules, some of the seven chosen for debate are making a repeat appearance from last year’s legislative branch bill consideration.
An amendment from Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) would prohibit Members from paying for online advertisements, arguing that it places incumbents at an unfair advantage in election years and wastes taxpayer dollars that constitute Members’ Representational Allowances.
Another amendment, offered by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), would ban dishware in House food service facilities made from polystyrene, a material many Democrats say is environmentally unfriendly but that Republicans argue is cheaper than the biodegradable dishware of the previous Congress.
The Rules Committee, meanwhile, rejected proposals that have recently been subjects of controversy.
One by Republican Reps. Jeff Landry (La.), Tim Huelskamp (Kan.) and Joe Walsh (Ill.) would have asked Members to continue to “lead by example” in the campaign to cut spending by cutting MRAs by more than $63 million.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) unsuccessfully sought to have the House consider her amendment to allow commercial filming in all areas of the Capitol. Currently, permits are granted for filming only on the parcel of land on the West Front.
The Rules panel also denied consideration of a proposal by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to force the Library of Congress’ Thomas website to offer legislative information for “bulk” downloads. Transparency activists say the LOC-run website should let users access data in large chunks rather than bit by bit.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.