Psaki: Biden's Opposition to Hyde Amendment 'Hasn't Changed' Despite Reconciliation Bill Comments


White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., October 6, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday dismissed the suggestion that President Biden is “backtracking” on his opposition to the Hyde amendment, one day after he signaled that he would sign Democrats’ reconciliation regardless of whether the provision is included.

During a press briefing, a reporter noted that Biden said Tuesday he wanted to get the massive social spending bill passed and would “sign it either way” when asked if he would still sign off if it includes the Hyde amendment, a stipulation that prohibits taxpayer money from funding abortions.

“You told us earlier this week that he remains opposed to that,” the reporter said to Psaki. “So, is he backtracking on a campaign promise, something that a lot of his supporters believe strongly in?”

Psaki responded that Biden’s position “hasn’t changed.”

“The context of his comments were that there’s still a negotiation happening,” she said. “There’s a range of views. His view remains what is reflected in his budget which is that getting rid of … the Hyde amendment was a priority. That remains his position.”

Psaki said the package is “still being negotiated” and that Biden “said as much last night.”

Meanwhile, Representative Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.), chair of the progressive caucus, said Sunday that she will not support the reconciliation package if it includes the Hyde amendment.

On Sunday, CNN anchor Dana Bash noted that Jayapal had shared her experience with abortion in congressional testimony last week. She asked the congresswoman if she would be able to vote for a bill that has the Hyde amendment included. 

No,” Jayapal said.

“So what happens?” Bash asked.

Jayapal responded that “this is a negotiation” and then claimed that the Hyde amendment is a measure that “the majority of the country does not support,” despite the fact that a January 2021 Marist Poll showed that 58 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, while 38 support it. The poll’s results were largely consistent with polling on the Hyde amendment in recent years.

Jayapal’s comments came days after Senator Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) told National Review that the bill would be “dead on arrival” if the Hyde amendment were not included. 

“Yeah, we’re not taking the Hyde amendment off. Hyde’s going to be on,” he said last week.

On Monday, Manchin reiterated that the Hyde amendment is a “red line.”

Moderate and progressive members of the party are still negotiating the cost of the reconciliation package. Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) have refused to support the initial proposal of $3.5 trillion for the massive social-spending bill, while progressives forced the House to delay a vote on a separate $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill last week as they refused to support the infrastructure bill until Congress acts on the reconciliation bill.

President Biden has hoped to quell intraparty conflict with a compromise topline of $1.9 trillion to $2.2 trillion for Democrats’ reconciliation bill.

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