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Harry Reid: We Can't Pass Troop Funding Bill Because It Bans Taxpayer Funding of Abortion in D.C.

11:55 AM, Apr 7, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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From a rough transcript of Democratic majority leader Harry Reid's remarks on the Senate floor this morning: 

Now, speaking of distractions, the House is now going to pass a short-term stopgap. It's a nonstarter over here, Mr. President. Doing that is a sure way to close the government. There are no more short-term extensions unless it's a clean continuing resolution to allow us a few more days to work on matters related to funding -- matters related to funding the government. The president has told the speaker that. I have told the speaker that. Republicans in the Senate have told the speaker that we can't pass another short-term c.r. It's not only bad policy, it's a fantasy. As I said last night, this is a nonstarter in the Senate. the president told the speaker that last night. 

So Reid is saying that the Senate is willing to vote for, and Obama is willing to sign, a "clean continuing resolution"--just not one that includes any riders or, more accurately, funding limitations. The one week continuing resolution (C.R.) introduced by House Republicans would fund the entire government for one week and fund the military for the rest of the year. 

There are only two "riders" in this budget stopgap. The first prevents federal funds from being used to build a detention center on U.S. soil for Guantanamo detainees or for bringing those detainees to the United States. But Reid didn't say anything about that rider in his remarks.

Instead, Reid said that "the two main issues that are holding this matter are up the choice of women, reproductive rights, and clean air. These matters have no place on a budget bill." By clean air, he means the amendment to keep the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide emissions. That rider is not included in House Republicans' bill. 

The only other rider in the one week C.R./year-long troop funding bill regards taxpayer-funding of abortion in the District of Columbia. So that seems to be the sticking point--the reason Reid won't vote for this budget or won't allow a vote. To be clear: We're not talking about prohibiting funds for contraception from being used to subsidize abortion providers (i.e. the Pence amendment on Planned Parenthood). We're talking about direct taxpayer-funding of abortion. 

This policy, known as the Dornan amendment, has previously enjoyed bipartisan support: Indeed, Reid, Biden, Pelosi, and Obama have all voted for appropriations bills that included the Dornan amendment. President Obama signed the Dornan amendment into law in the fiscal year 2009 budget. It was only removed in the summer of 2009 by House Democrats--and even then 39 Democratic members of Congress took the extraordinary step of joining House Republicans to try to take down the rule on an appropriations bill in order to keep the Dornan amendment. It's quite amazing that Harry Reid and President Obama are now insisting that taxpayer-funding of abortion is more imporant than a bill that funds the troops for a year and keeps budget negotiations going for another week. 

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