Pending final approval of a massive $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill to fund most of the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2015, family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) advocates appear to be on the verge achieving a significant victory—at least how victory is defined in the current political environment.
In the State Department and foreign operations section of the FY 2015 omnibus filed Tuesday night, Senate and House champions were completely successful in preserving the status quo—neither a funding cut nor any policy “riders” are imposed. And a small but important victory was achieved in modifying a 35-year old total ban on any funding for abortion services for Peace Corps volunteers. An amendment, previously approved by both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, was incorporated in the omnibus providing exceptions for payment for abortions for Peace Corps volunteers in the cases of life, rape or incest.
For more details on both funding and policy provisions in the FY 2015 omnibus bill, read our full Washington Memo.
Premature celebrations should be postponed for now since nothing will be final until both the House and Senate pass the omnibus package and President Obama signs it into law. The continuing resolution (CR) currently funding the federal government expires at midnight tonight, but congressional leaders of both parties and both chambers are working hard to get the omnibus bill approved as soon as possible so as to avoid a government shutdown. A short-term CR lasting several days is expected to be necessary to allow time to complete action on the omnibus before Congress leaves for the year. There will be considerable pressure on members of both parties in Congress to not stand in the way of final passage of the omnibus. But as Yogi Berra once famously said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
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