Will HHS Remain Pro-Life With Price Out?
Tom Price may have cleared out his office at the Department of Health and Human Services, but what he left behind says volumes. After the liberals’ “gotcha” moment (a series of charter plane trips that were reportedly cleared by agency lawyers), Price resigned, walking away from one of the most influential jobs in Washington. For conservatives, it was a frustrating moment. Losing one of the most pro-family members of Trump’s cabinet was a huge blow to the movement, which was looking forward to rolling back eight years of anti-life, anti-freedom health “care.”
The New York Times had warned that liberals were on the move, determined to drive out Price however they could. No one dreamed that his trips to official events would be how they succeeded. But while Tom may be gone, his stamp on the agency is not. This week, HHS released the former secretary’s five-year strategic plan for the agency, a vision of health care that Americans would have been proud of. Politico dug into the document, revealing that Price’s goals for the $1.1 trillion agency were strongly pro-life, hardly a surprise to anyone who followed his positive career in the House.
In multiple places, he talked about the importance of protecting people from “conception to natural death.” But reporters seemed especially interested in the more than 40 references to “faith” or “faith-based organizations” — a dramatic shift from the last administration’s three. Obviously, the secretary was trying to heed the president’s executive order on religious liberty, which asked all agencies “to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech.”
Also noteworthy, Price made no mention of carrying out Obamacare, probably hoping — like most voters — that the law wouldn’t be alive to carry out. Gone was the pandering to LGBT and abortion groups like Planned Parenthood, which raked in the dollars through the sexual liberalism Obama was funding.
In his brief stint as chief, the draft may be Price’s most important work. Not only is it a great road map for the agency but for Tom’s replacement. Without Price, President Trump will have his hands full finding another conservative as qualified to advance his agenda. Fortunately, there are some solid candidates, like former House Rep. John Fleming, who would fill the pro-life void. Like Dr. Price, Dr. Fleming has a heart for the unborn and cares intently about making health care more affordable and patient-driven. He’s also familiar with the agency, having spent the last several months as HHS’s deputy assistant secretary for health technology reform.
As we’ve seen, liberals will fight anyone with a backbone to push Trump’s agenda. The director of the AIDS Institute couldn’t hide his disdain for the agency’s goals for the next five years. “It’s not that we’re against faith-based groups,” he insisted. “We just want to make sure that these groups will not withhold condoms, withhold messages that are important to prevent HIV, particularly among gay men, among transgender people.” But the irony of that statement is that conservatives are the ones who have not just the best messages but the solution for the spread of disease: abstain! The CDC just announced one of the greatest spikes in STDs in history, and we’re not going to stop STDs using the same failed approach — throwing money at the problem, and never addressing its source! It’s time for an honest conversation about American health care. Tom Price started one. Let’s hope Donald Trump picks a conservative bold enough to continue it.
Originally published here.
House GOP: We Don’t Put a Price on Life
The House has had plenty of practice passing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36) — but never with a pro-life president ready to sign the measure when it arrives. Tuesday, pro-life leaders like Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) moved closer to putting a pen in Trump’s hand, sending H.R. 36, which would end abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy, to the Senate by a strong vote of 237 to 189. As the bill was debated, Democrats did everything they could to avoid talking about the science of fetal pain, which shows that babies feel excruciating pain as they’re torn apart in abortion.
Many Democrats, such as Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), instead criticized the bill for banning abortions on pain-capable babies even in cases where the “baby had a rare birth defect,” which he cited as “the most compassionate choice available.” Democrats’ false compassion of supporting killing unborn babies with disabilities calls to mind recent disturbing reports that Iceland has exterminated virtually all children with Down syndrome by killing them in the womb through abortion. Studies show between 67-90 percent of children with Down syndrome are killed through abortion here in the U.S. This week, President Donald Trump rightfully criticized those who use “Down syndrome as an excuse to ignore or discard human life.”
Other Democrats tried to claim fiscally conservative Republicans were hypocrites in supporting the Pain-Capable bill because paying for these unborn children to be born and cared for is more expensive than killing them. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) said Republicans supporting H.R. 36 were throwing their “concerns about the budget … out the window” since “CBO estimates [the bill] will cost us from 65 to 335 million dollars over 10 years” due to thousands more babies being born. “You’re right: We don’t put a price on” life, responded Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC). “We cherish it.”
Now that the House has passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to end abortion on demand at 20 weeks of development, it’s time for Mitch McConnell and the Senate to do their jobs — to bring up and pass this bill so President Trump can sign this life-affirming legislation into law.
Originally published here.
Religious Liberty a Foreign Concept at Brownback Hearing
Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS) to be the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, a job then-Sen. Brownback was pivotal in creating in 1998 to address religious persecution and genocide around the world. Despite the purpose of the post being to advocate for religious liberty broadly, Gov. Brownback noted that some on the Committee focused on other issues.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said he was concerned because Gov. Brownback rolled back an executive order in Kansas that provided extra privileges for state employees based on sexual orientation. Gov. Brownback replied he didn’t think it was the role of the executive branch to provide such privileges when the legislature did not pass a law to do so. Sen. Kaine continuously drilled down on Gov. Brownback, and even asked Gov. Brownback if he was aware that there are countries where people who identify as LGBT are criminalized because of their sexual orientation. Sen. Kaine also asked whether Gov. Brownback thinks there is a circumstance where religious freedom can justify criminalizing people because of their LGBT status. Gov. Brownback replied that he did not know what that justification would be.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) also attempted to take Gov. Brownback down a few rabbit holes, asking whether it is okay to deny women access to abortion in the name of religious freedom. Gov. Brownback replied that the ambassador for religious freedom should stay in the lane of religious freedom without getting in the middle of the abortion debate, or other debates, that cannot even gain consensus in the United States. Shaheen then asked Brownback if he would support human rights efforts for LGBT persons, to which Gov. Brownback replied that he would focus on religious liberty.
While some senators on the Foreign Relations Committee attempted to guide Gov. Brownback off-track, he focused on religious freedom around the world noting the importance of the role of the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom because, as he said, being ineffective on religious freedom means we will see violence grow across the world.
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.