U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) signed onto a letter urging Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Vice Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) to reject all anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion provisions in the 2024 appropriations bills.
“Our country is facing a reproductive health care crisis, one that has been accelerated by the Supreme Court’s extremist decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization,” reads the letter. “As of November 7, 2023, 14 states are enforcing abortion bans at any point in pregnancy and seven states have imposed abortion bans with limits that range from six to 18 weeks. These bans leave 1 in 3 women, as well as transgender and nonbinary people, without access to abortion and disproportionately impact people of color, people with disabilities, young people, people living in rural areas, and people with low incomes. Yet in the midst of this crisis, House Republicans have proposed several new anti-abortion policy riders. These riders include a provision to force back in place medically unnecessary restrictions on medication abortion, a measure to stop the implementation of the Biden administration’s executive orders to protect access to abortion care, and a measure that would jeopardize access to essential postgraduate medical training in abortion care. If adopted, these provisions would seriously undermine pregnant people’s ability to make decisions about their bodies and providers’ ability to provide necessary care.”
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) included anti-abortion requests in the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill in November. According to a news release, Boebert requested the bill not include funding for a government sponsored, pro-abortion website in the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill also maintains the Hyde Amendment and ensures no federal funding can be used for abortion, maintains the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, a legacy rider that prohibits the creation or destruction of human embryos for research purposes, prohibits the National Institutes of Health from using human fetal tissue obtained from an elective abortion to be used in taxpayer-funded research, and prohibits Planned Parenthood-affiliated clinics from receiving federal funds.
House Republicans have also embedded an unprecedented number of anti-LGBTQ provisions into the must-pass funding bills. “House Republicans have used the appropriations process to push extremist anti-LGBTQ+ measures, which threaten to disrupt the lives and fundamental dignity of the LGBTQ+ community,” reads the letter. “Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is already on the rise; in 2023 alone, more than 575 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced across 41 state legislatures, and more than 80 of those bills have been signed into law.”
Earlier this year, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) declared a first-in-its-history State of Emergency, highlighting the increase in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and legislation introduced across the country.
“It is evident that House Republicans have no interest in solving the real problems facing their constituents,” said HRC Vice President of Government Affairs David Stacy in a July news release. “This abuse of the appropriations process threatens to derail critical funding bills that address the needs of our country. In their rush to fire just about every legislative volley they can think of to further advance their culture war on Americans, Republicans have chosen to turn the appropriations process into a farce, threatening a government shutdown and showing that extremists control their party. Make no mistake: they are hurting real people instead of doing their jobs.”
According to the letter signed by Bennet and Hickenlooper, House Republicans have introduced more than 50 anti-LGBTQ provisions across all 12 appropriations bills. “These provisions include those allowing the government to discriminate against married same-sex couples as well as language to prevent the administration from enforcing laws to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination,” reads the letter. “Seven of the House’s 12 appropriations bills also contain dangerous riders that ban access to gender-affirming care, which would deprive transgender people of medically necessary and often life-saving healthcare.”
In recent years, federal legislators have attempted to not just protect abortion rights, with the Women’s Health Protection Act, but to protect LGBTQ Americans — including transgender people who have faced increasingly hostile state-level legislation and executive orders this year — with the Equality Act, and to pass meaningful gun violence prevention legislation. All of those efforts have been stymied by the Republican filibuster in the Senate, often with the support of Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).