In a first “test” of his leadership as Speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Johnson, R-LA, is facing pressure to back down on his strong pro-life stance against a radical measure that would allow abortion-causing drugs to be shipped nationwide.
“A majority of the House Republican conference backs a provision in the food and agriculture funding bill that would ban mail delivery of abortion pills nationwide, with some hard-liners even pledging to oppose any version without it,” POLITICO reported October 26. “But a handful of Republican centrists who face tough reelection bids next year say federal curbs on mifepristone, a widely used abortion pill, are ‘a non-starter.’”
Johnson has pledged to get a spate of 12 government spending bills through and avoid a government shutdown when funding runs out in the middle of next month. He has also told lawmakers that he wants to bring the agriculture bill to the floor by November 13.
“If mifepristone stays in the bill it’s dead. If mifepristone comes out it’s dead,” said Republican Rep. Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota. “So, until we solve that problem, we can’t get to the next one.”
POLITICO spoke with CatholicVote Director of Government Affairs Tom McClusky, reporting that he
told POLITICO he and other conservative leaders have been meeting since the bill failed on the floor in September with Reps. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-Ore.), several New York Republicans, and other centrist holdouts to persuade them to back the abortion pill restrictions. Among the groups’ arguments: the Supreme Court may strike down the FDA rule allowing mail delivery of abortion bills as early as next year.
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“We’re also telling them: ‘Look, you ran on a pro-life platform,” McClusky added. “You can’t say you’re pro-life and allow abortion drugs to be used so widely.’”
POLITICO interviewed several commentators and politicians who suggested Johnson ought to appease so-called “moderate” pro-choice Republicans in order to broker a compromise and avoid a shutdown.
“How Johnson proceeds over the next three weeks will provide one of the first looks at how he plans to navigate the pitfalls that ensnared his predecessor Kevin McCarthy, and whether he plans to make good on his promises to protect the at-risk Republicans who helped the GOP clinch its narrow majority,” the publication wrote.
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. R-PA, told POLITICO that he hasn’t changed his mind since voting against the bill in September. “If there’s any provision in there that’s extreme, then I’ll vote against the bill — it’s that simple,” he said.
“New York Reps. Marc Molinaro, Nick LaLota and Anthony D’Esposito all confirmed they remain opposed as well — with some arguing that the provision has no chance of passing the Senate and others arguing that abortion policy should be decided at the state level,” POLITICO added.
McClusky, however, expressed confidence that Johnson would not take such a route.
“I’d be very surprised if the new speaker were to suggest taking it out at this point,” McClusky said about the abortion pill provision. “Our efforts are better put [on winning over holdouts] than on backing down.”
LifeNews Note: Joshua Mercer writes for CatholicVote, where this column originally appeared.
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