House GOP funding bill in danger over DC reproductive rights rider

A Republican effort to target a Washington, D.C., law aimed at protecting employees’ reproductive rights is endangering a spending bill GOP leadership hopes to pass later this month.

House GOP moderates are taking issue with a policy rider within the annual financial services and general government (FSGG) funding bill, which contains funding for the district including emergency planning, security costs and other programs. The rider seeks to do away with a local law to protect workers from employer discrimination for their reproductive health choices, like having an abortion or using birth control.

The proposal was among the reasons House Republicans struggled to pass the same funding bill measure last year. And if it stays as is, the bill could lose support from moderates again this time around.

“Last year, I voted against the bill for a few reasons, including that, and I still continue to oppose that provision,” Rep. Nick Lalota (R-N.Y.) told The Hill this week. “If it remains in the bill, I’ll vote against the bill again.”

“I certainly don’t want to see the provision in it,” Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.) said this week, adding he’s also expressed concerns to party leadership about the measure and is hopeful they “take it into consideration.”

The recent comments underscore the uncertainty surrounding the bill’s chances of passage as Republicans are expected to tee up a floor vote on the legislation before Congress takes off for a monthlong recess next month. With Republicans’ razor-thin majority and the unlikelihood of many Democrats crossing the aisle, moderate opposition threatens the funding bill’s chances of passage.

The annual FSGG spending bill is one of 12 full-year funding plans the House is working to have passed by the end of the month, as both chambers stare down a government shutdown deadline in late September.

So far, the GOP-led House has passed a third of their government spending bills for fiscal 2025. The measures — which span funding for agencies like the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs — have passed mostly along partisan lines, as Democrats have pressed for more funding for nondefense programs and decried numerous partisan riders as “poison pills.”

But advocates say some of those riders also pose key tests for Republicans in the months leading up to the November races, particularly as Democrats continue to hammer the other side on issues like reproductive rights, in vitro fertilization and abortion.

“This is absolutely a test where the members stand on access to sexual and reproductive health care,” Karen Stone, vice president of public policy and government relations at Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in an interview while discussing the FSGG bill and the party’s other spending proposals.

“These bills go after abortion. They go after birth control,” she said, arguing the bills take aim at a broad “range of sexual and reproductive health care services, and I think, where folks stand on these provisions is absolutely illustrative.”

Republicans have for years targeted the D.C. law, also known as the Reproductive Health Nondiscrimination Act of 2014, defending their fight as one for religious liberty, while Democrats warn its rollback could result in an employee being fired in D.C. for having an abortion.

The vote, which is expected to happen shortly after lawmakers return to Washington following the Republican National Convention in Wisconsin next week, comes as even former President Trump has sought to walk a tightrope on the issue, despite recently touting the overturning of Roe v. Wade in remarks to religious conservatives.

Republicans in Congress have also backed away from calls for national abortion bans in the years following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that took away Americans’ federal right to an abortion.

Many have instead called for such measures to be left to the states as polling shows solid support for abortion access across the country. A survey conducted by Pew Research Center back in spring found that 57 percent of respondents that identified as Republican or Republican-leaning support abortion access in most or all cases.

Advocates have challenged the position, however, particularly while pointing to the party’s efforts targeting Washington’s reproductive health law.

“I think this is actually a really pernicious combination of being anti-abortion and anti-Home Rule for the District, sort of anti-democracy in a way,” Katie O’Connor, senior director of federal abortion policy at the National Women’s Law Center, told The Hill this week.

Stone also said “specifically about the Reproductive Health Nondiscrimination Act rider in the FSGG bill, that’s an effort to prevent enforcement of a law passed by the Washington D.C. council.”

“That’s explicitly anti-local rights and taking away the rights of the people who live in a jurisdiction from making the decisions that impact them,” Stone said.

Updated at 7:59 a.m. EDT

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