Editor’s Note: U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, a Republican, has served the 6th Congressional District for just over 5 years. He regards himself as a pro-life legislator and was eager to clarify what has been happening with the life issue in Washington during the last two years.
After the rumors swirled around the 2018 Omnibus Budget Bill, the CITIZEN reached out to Rep. Andy Barr to get the facts.
CITIZEN: There are those who are saying that the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Budget Bill included funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. Is that true?
Rep. Barr: Let me be very clear: The consolidated funding bill that passed DID NOT include any line item to fund Planned Parenthood. In addition, the funding bill DID retain all the longstanding pro-life riders to prevent abortion funding, such as the Hyde, Helms and Dornan (DC Hyde) amendments, among others. In fact, the pro-life riders that were included are too numerous to list fully in this interview, but my office can provide an exhaustive list to anyone who is interested.
CITIZEN: Where did that misunderstanding come from?
Rep. Barr: Unfortunately, language from H.R. 354, the bill sponsored by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) to defund Planned Parenthood, was not included in the final consolidated funding bill. However, that does not mean that taxpayer funds will go to Planned Parenthood. There have been concerns that Planned Parenthood or its affiliates will be funded through discretionary Health and Human Services grants. Historically, Title X has been a significant source of funding for Planned Parenthood. However, the new administration has full authority to issue new regulations to enable it to direct this money away from Planned Parenthood and abortion providers. Members of the pro-life caucus will continue to encourage the Trump Administration to discontinue the Obama Administration’s practice of providing discretionary grants to Planned Parenthood.
CITIZEN: What are the safeguards regarding such funding?
Rep. Barr: First, the Hyde amendment prevents those funds from being used to pay for abortion directly. Second, the funding bill did not include hostile language that had been included in Senate appropriations bills, which would have tied the hands of the Administration from making changes to how the Title X programs were administered. This allows the Trump Administration to make changes to the Title X program, which I am hopeful they will do.
CITIZEN: What exactly is H.R. 354?
Rep. Barr: H.R. 354 is the Defund Planned Parenthood Bill, which was introduced by my colleague and friend, Rep. Black. I am pleased to be a cosponsor. H.R. 354 prohibits the availability of federal funds FOR ANY PURPOSE to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., or any of its affiliates or clinics, unless they certify that the affiliates and clinics will not perform, and will not provide any funds to any other entity that performs, an abortion. This restriction does not apply in cases of rape or incest or where a physical condition endangers a woman’s life unless an abortion is performed.
CITIZEN: Are you concerned in any way about the potential of Planned Parenthood receiving funds through the Omnibus Budget Bill?
Rep. Barr: We are continuing to work to find a successful way forward to prohibit PP from receiving taxpayer dollars. In the meantime, I am hopeful that the Administration will be good stewards of these grant programs and not make awards to Planned Parenthood. The House of Representatives has done its work over the last two years – the 115th Congress – as well as in this recent legislation, to protect unborn children. I, personally, have voted for at least four resolutions and bills that have passed the House, including a resolution that repealed an Obama-era Title X rule that essentially forced states to fund Planned Parenthood with their Title X funds.