Jordan offers Motion to Instruct in Committee Markup, reinstating the Stupak/Pitts amendment.
Mr. Chairman, who would have thought that in this great country, we would have seen the things we have seen this past year. Who would have thought that we would see the President fire the CEO of General Motors? Who would have thought the taxpayers would own GM? Who would have thought we would see this Congress and this Administration pass a so-called stimulus that didn’t do anything to promote economic growth? Who would have thought that in the United States of America we would have a federal government pay czar telling private citizens how much money they could make? Who would have thought we would have a $1.4 trillion deficit and a $12 trillion dollar national debt? Who would have thought that the President’s own budget director would testify in front of this committee that the President’s budget is unsustainable?
Now this Congress and this Administration are trying to ram through this health care bill using the partisan reconciliation process. Simply put, Mr. Chairman, the American people have had enough. They told Democrats no in August and September at town hall meetings. They told Democrats no when they tried to do this by Thanksgiving and then by Christmas. They said no when Democrats wanted to do it by the State of the Union. And they are going to say no tomorrow when thousands of American citizens come to Washington again to say enough is enough. The American people are standing up and saying no.
During the past year as I have traveled around our district and throughout Ohio, I have seen firsthand the emergence of a grassroots movement, fueled in large part by an arrogant and out-of-control federal government. Millions of Americans from every walk of life have stood up—in many cases for the first time ever—to make their voices heard. They gather in town squares. They organize. They pray. They’ve marched on Washington, and they’re not stopping there. The American people are sending a message loud and clear.
Far from the dangerous extremists the other side and elite media may characterize them as, these are ordinary citizens—moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas—who believe that America is an exceptional nation. They are freedom loving Americans who feel like their government is ignoring them. They work hard every day so that their kids and grandkids can have life a little better than they did. They believe that there are ideals and principles that make this country unique throughout history and they see those principles being assaulted everyday in Washington.
I have been to town hall meetings and gatherings in town squares where our Founding documents have been distributed and even read aloud. No matter how many times I hear them, perhaps the most beautiful words outside of Scripture are in our Declaration of Independence: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
And I would ask you, can you ever be happy, can you ever pursue those things of meaning and significance to you and your family if you are not first free. And can you ever be truly free if government does not first protect your most basic and fundamental right, the right to life. When I got into politics sixteen years ago, I was motivated in large part by the assault on that most basic freedom. I have been strengthened by the majority of Americans who believe—like I do—that life is precious and a sacred gift from God.
And over that time, whatever disagreements there were with those who don’t share our beliefs; there was a shared understanding that federal dollars should not be used to take innocent human life. Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has done just that. Under long-standing policy, no federal dollars will go to pay for abortion or abortion services. The Senate-passed health care bill—that I’m told the House could vote on as soon as this week—would dramatically change that. It represents the largest threat to innocent human life since Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court.
Fortunately, there is another way. When the House passed our own health care bill in November, we included the Stupak/Pitts Amendment. The amendment simply says that no federal dollars can go to pay for abortion or subsidize a plan that covers abortion. This continues the current policy under the Hyde Amendment, and makes sure that it is permanently applied to any health care reform law. This overwhelmingly passed the House with the support of all but one Republican and a quarter of the Democratic Caucus.
The motion I am offering today is a restatement of the Stupak/Pitts Amendment. The will of this body on this amendment is clear. It would be irresponsible for this committee to pass out our reconciliation instructions without this important amendment included. And not only is it the will of this body, but of the American people. Polling in Ohio and across the nation indicates that 70% of people are opposed to federal dollars being used to pay for abortion.
I have heard some people say that the life provisions in the Senate bill are adequate, that they can vote for the Senate bill and continue to claim the pro-life label. That is simply inaccurate. For example, the Senate bill appropriates $7 billion for Community Health Centers – many of which are located in the districts we represent. This $7 billion is NOT subject to the Hyde Amendment protections because the funding is not in the HHS appropriations bill. It is NOT subject to the language in this bill that only applies to insurance subsidies. For the first time in most of our lives, taxpayer-funded abortions could take place in each of our districts.
The Senate bill also authorizes tax subsidies for plans that could cover abortion. To put a pro-life veneer on this scheme, the Senate attached a provision that anyone who enrolled in one of these plans would have to pay a separate fee to an abortion fund. This is a slap in the face to pro-life Americans who will now be forced to pay into a fund whose sole purpose is to take innocent human life. These are just two of the most egregious examples of what is wrong with the Senate bill on the life issue.
By adopting this motion, the House will send a strong message that at its most basic level, real health care reform respects and protects life. We sent that signal in November when the House passed the Stupak/Pitts Amendment. And while the exact language of Stupak will not fix the Senate bill, its principles must be included in any “fix” that is worked out. That is why this committee must adopt this motion, to ensure that any bill that becomes law has airtight and absolute protections for human life. I, along with all of my pro-life colleagues, encourage House leaders to continue working toward that goal.
Just ten days ago – and I’ll end with this – former Buckeye and NFL star Chris Spielman stood before a packed house in Columbus, Ohio. There he was, one of the toughest guys to ever play the game, recounting a very tender and touching story about a challenge he and his wife Stefanie faced a few years ago.
Chris and Stefanie were in the midst of Stefanie’s very public bout with cancer. She was two years cancer-free when she came to Chris with the heart-dropping news that a husband and dad never wants to hear. “Something’s happening…” she told him. “I don’t feel right…I need to see the doctor.”
What they learned – that Stefanie was pregnant – would normally have been joyous news! But because of Stefanie’s cancer, they faced a unique challenge that tested their faith, and sent a message to each of us. You see, Stefanie was on the drug herceptin for her cancer, and they were told that a baby had never been born to a mom on herceptin.
They were given three choices:
• stay on the herceptin and risk losing the baby
• terminate the pregnancy, or
• go off the herceptin and risk losing both mom and the baby
They chose life! Today, as Chris would put it, he has a beautiful little 7-year old girl that he’s crazy about, and he loves her to death.
Mr. Chairman, in this debate we have an even greater choice to make. We are not just making a decision for our own families, but for millions of American families. The pro-life majority of this country has made it clear that we will not allow our values to be hijacked by this debate. On the issue of life, we are about to cast career-defining votes. Rarely in public service is the choice so clear or the stakes higher. Now is such a time for choosing. I urge you to choose life and support this motion. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.