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Ways and Means Republicans Vote to Block Biden Administration Plan That Threatens Access to Maternal Care

January 12, 2024

Proposed rule seeks to sidestep Congress and rewrite law governing the use of TANF funds

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ways and Means Republicans passed legislation blocking part of a proposed Biden Administration rule that could restrict pregnant women’s access to maternal care. The proposed rule, drafted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), could prohibit states from allowing Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) funds to be used by pregnancy resource centers. These centers exist to provide care and support for pregnant women looking for alternatives for abortion. Totaling more than 2,700 nationwide, these centers are focused on practical help for both mother and child, everything from diapers and prenatal vitamins to transportation and parenting classes. In 2019 alone, pregnancy resource centers provided material and medical help to over 2 million women and families.

In addition to the harm the proposed rule poses to pregnant women, Republican members also highlighted how the proposed rule plainly violates the bipartisan 1996 law creating TANF, which prohibits any Administration from establishing regulations about the use of TANF funds. As Republicans noted during the hearing, this rule appears to be an attempt by the Biden HHS to sidestep Congress and unilaterally rewrite the law to the detriment of millions of pregnant women. 

In his remarks during the markup, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08) highlighted the hypocrisy of Democrats touting a commitment to women choosing their own health care, while denying funding for resources and services necessary for a safe and healthy pregnancy:

“The Biden Administration is preparing to make it harder for moms to choose life for their unborn child and take care of themselves and their baby. If this rule takes effect, women in America will have fewer alternatives to abortion and less access to maternal care. 

“Nothing in the bipartisan law that created TANF gives the Biden Administration the authority to unfairly target pregnancy resource centers. The Biden Administration is deliberately attempting to sidestep Congress to further its political agenda.”

Rep. Michelle Fischbach (MN-07), the bill’s sponsor, released the following statement after the committee passed the Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Women and Families Act:

“Pregnancy centers offer a wide array of services and support for expectant mothers, fathers, and their families. And yet, the Department of Health and Human Services has proposed a rule that could restrict states from using TANF funding for these important resources and instead encourages funding to go to facilities that provide abortions,” said Rep. Fischbach. “The Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Women and Families Act ensures pregnancy centers cannot be excluded or restricted from receiving TANF funding. Make no mistake, conservatives are here for unborn children, their mothers, and their families.”

Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Women and Families Act

Introduced by Rep. Michelle Fischbach (MN-07), Rep. Claudia Tenney (NY-24), and Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), H.R. 6918 protects expectant women’s access to maternal care.

  • Prohibits HHS from imposing restrictions that would limit TANF funding for pregnancy centers. 
  • In 2019, 2,700 pregnancy centers across the country provided life-affirming services and material support to 2 million people including pregnant women, parents, couples, and families.
  • The Biden Administration suggests TANF should instead be steered toward programs that align with the business model of Planned Parenthood.
  • Pregnancy resource centers clearly meet TANF’s purposes by providing material support and services to women in need so that children can be cared for in their own home and by reducing dependence on government assistance.

Click here to read the bill summary.

Click here to read the bill text.