In response to Manchin Will Vote to Confirm Xavier Becerra
As John McCormack noted on the Corner earlier this morning, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin has announced that he’ll vote to confirm California attorney general Xavier Becerra to head the Department of Health and Human Services.
In a statement released this morning, Manchin said he will vote for Becerra because the nominee “committed to me that he will uphold the law in regards to the Hyde Amendment.”
Taking Becerra at his word on this point requires a great deal of credulity. While Becerra tried to dodge the subject during his hearings, he spearheaded a lawsuit with the aim of forcing religious employers — including a charitable order of Catholic nuns — to subsidize contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.
He also led efforts to sue the Trump administration for removing a portion of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, as well as to force the Food and Drug Administration to remove its safety requirements for chemical-abortion drugs.
Biden has already issued guidance requesting that his HHS consider terminating a Trump-administration policy that forbids abortion providers from receiving federal funding through the Title X family planning program. Given Becerra’s history of using state power to compel religious believers to advertise for abortion, there is no reason to think he’ll resist Biden’s instruction.
When asked during his hearings whether he’d commit to “not using taxpayer money to fund abortions and abortion providers,” Becerra replied that he would “follow the law when it comes to the use of federal resources.” But there’s no hard-and-fast rule that federal law must always state that federal money cannot fund abortion.
As we just witnessed with the latest stimulus bill, Congress need not attach pro-life protections to spending legislation, and, as noted above, some policies related to federal spending on abortion are governed by HHS itself.
Manchin may never face consequences from the pro-life movement for supporting Becerra, but if he’s sincerely expecting the nominee to lead HHS as if he cared about the rights of pro-life Americans, he’ll be severely disappointed.