The House GOP’s bill to fund the Department of Agriculture, rural development and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is on thin ice after a handful of moderate Republicans said they are opposed to the legislation because of a provision that would limit access to an abortion pill.
Reps. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) and Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.) told reporters Wednesday morning that they do not support the agriculture spending bill in its current form, pointing to language pertaining to mifepristone, an abortion pill.
Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.) told The Hill that he is a “no” on the agriculture appropriations bill in part because of the abortion pill provision.
Asked about the spending bill, Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) — who in July said “some states allow it to be mailed, some states don’t,” but that it should be a decision with the states and the FDA — told reporters Wednesday “my position hasn’t changed.” Lawler, D’Esposito and Molinaro represent districts President Biden won in 2020.
A provision in the legislation would nullify a Biden administration rule allowing mifepristone to be sold in retail pharmacies and by mail with prescriptions from a certified health care provider.
The House advanced the agriculture appropriations bill along with three other spending measures Tuesday that would fund the Department of Defense; Department of Homeland Security; and Department of State and foreign operations.
The House debated and voted on a number of amendments to the legislation Tuesday, and leaders are looking to bring the legislation to the floor for a final vote this week. With Democrats opposed to the measure, Republicans can only afford to lose a handful of votes and still move it over the finish line.
Mace predicted that the measure “will fail on its face on the floor” because of the mifepristone provision.
“It’ll be the reason why the bill doesn’t pass on the floor,” she said Wednesday.
“If you don’t like the drugs that the FDA approves, then fix the FDA, but this is not going to — it’s only going to make women angrier in this country when we keep having these abortion arguments, when we haven’t done anything for women,” she added at another point in the conversation.
Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.), an appropriator, said he thinks the agriculture appropriations bill will be the most difficult to get over the finish line of the spending measures up for consideration this week.
The House sought to advance the agriculture appropriations bill in July, but GOP leaders punted those plans amid internal divisions over the legislation. Moderates at the time were voicing concerns about the mifepristone provision, and conservatives were pressuring GOP leaders to further slash funding levels in the measure.
Mace — who has been vocal in her support for exceptions to abortion regulations — claimed that she was “misled” by GOP leadership, who she said assured her that the mifepristone provision would not be in the final bill.
A coalition of Democrats submitted an amendment to the appropriations bill that would strike the mifepristone provision, but it was not put in order for a vote. Mace did not submit any amendments to the legislation.
“Leadership told us that this would not be a problem and wouldn’t be in there, and here we are,” Mace said.
“We were misled by leadership on that issue, so I’m gonna call it like I see it, and I don’t appreciate being misled on an issue that’s very important to women in this country,” she later added.
The congresswoman said she had meetings with leadership and informed them that the mifepristone provision “was a problem.” She said it was her interpretation afterward that leadership would nix the language from the bill.
“My interpretation of our meeting is that — and the conversations after — is that it would, it would not be an issue, would not be part of the Ag bill,” she said, “and here we are.”
The discord over the agriculture appropriations bill comes days ahead of Sept. 30 deadline to fund the government or risk a shutdown. The fate of the legislation, however, will not affect whether or not the government shuts down over the weekend.
Leaders in both parties and chambers have said that a stopgap bill will be needed to keep the lights on in Washington beyond the end of the month, but a path to such a measure remains unclear.
The Senate advanced a bipartisan continuing resolution Tuesday night that would fund the government through Nov. 17 and includes roughly $6.15 billion for Ukraine and $5.99 billion for disaster assistance, but Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told members of his conference Wednesday morning that he will not bring the measure to the floor for a vote.
McCarthy has tried to coalesce his conference around a partisan stopgap bill — legislation that will not advance in the Senate but is meant to kick off negotiations with Democrats — but GOP lawmakers have been unable to get legislation over the finish line. A number of hard-line conservatives have said they will not vote for a continuing resolution under any circumstances.
In an effort to flip their stance, however, GOP leaders are considering four full-year appropriations bills this week, which has been a key request among conservatives.
Emily Brooks contributed.