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Camp Opening Statement: Markup of H.R. 1232 – The Elimination of Certain Tax Benefits Relating to Abortion

March 31, 2011

We meet today to consider H.R. 1232, a bill that restricts the use of taxpayer funds for abortion.  It is, we all know, not an issue that this Committee considers often, and it is certainly one that many of us have strong feelings about.  While I expect there will be differences of opinion today, I do hope that we will stand together in protecting the jurisdiction of this Committee.  When Mr. Rangel and Mr. Levin were in the chair, I backed them every time – without hesitation – when it came to our jurisdiction. 

It is not an issue I take lightly and with good reason – we are the only Committee whose authority is directly derived from the Constitution.  Tax measures must originate in the House and those matters are our sole jurisdiction.  I do not intend for the Committee to abdicate its constitutional responsibilities.  So, before a tax bill goes to the floor, you can expect us to ensure it is done correctly.

I firmly believe that this Committee has some of the most talented members of Congress serving on it – and that goes for both sides of the dais.  I have every confidence that we can walk and chew gum at the same time.  We can deal with job-creating trade policy, as the Trade Subcommittee did yesterday; and job-creating fiscal and tax policy, as the full committee discussed yesterday; and continue to push the Senate to pass the pro-jobs 1099 bill; and advance a long-term FAA reauthorization bill that many in the Senate have called a jobs bill, which is on the Floor today, and still deal with other legislation, such as the bill before us today.

H.R. 1232, in general, codifies the longstanding, bipartisan Hyde Amendment, which prevents taxpayers’ funds being used for abortion-related costs.  According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, it will have a “negligible” effect on revenues.  It is not a tax increase, despite what some have wrongly suggested. 

The legislation is necessary because the Democrats’ health care law included a massive expansion of the IRS’ authority and concocted a host of ways to funnel taxpayer funds for various costs and procedures, including abortions.  In response, our colleague, Chris Smith, introduced H.R. 3, which is designed to prevent the use of taxpayer funding for abortions.

However, as a hearing in the Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee two weeks ago revealed, the tax implications of that measure were unclear.  Simply put, it is our responsibility as a Committee to address the valid concerns raised in that hearing.

In a moment we will hear from Tom Barthold of the Joint Committee on Taxation for a technical walk through of the legislation, but before we do so I want to be clear about what the legislation would not do. 

  • It would not affect either the ability of an individual to pay for an abortion (or for abortion coverage) through private funds, or the ability of an entity to provide separate abortion coverage.
  • It would not apply to abortions in cases of rape, incest, or life-threatening physical condition of the mother.
  • It would not apply to treatment of injury, infection, or other health problems resulting from an abortion.

This is about making sure taxpayer funds are not used to pay for abortions but does not affect the use of private funds.  Thus, we are basically codifying the Hyde Amendment in the tax code.