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Posted at 02:00 PM ET, 09/14/2011

Senate D.C. spending bill does not include abortion ban

Updated 2 p.m.

Advocates for District autonomy and for abortion rights won a partial victory Wednesday when the Senate released a draft D.C. spending bill that does not include a ban on the city using its taxpayer money to fund abortions for low-income women.

The 2012 appropriations bill covering the District, as well as the Treasury Department and a host of federal agencies, would prohibit the use of federal money but not the use of city tax funds to pay for abortions and would cut overall federal funding for the city by 6 percent compared with 2011 levels.

The bill was approved by a Senate appropriations subcommittee Wednesday and will be taken up by the full committee Thursday. It could wind up with amendments, on abortion and other D.C. social issues, during full committee markup and whenever it reaches the Senate floor.

Sen. Jerry Moran (Kan.), the top Republican on the subcommittee that authored the bill, declined to comment on whether he or a fellow Republican would offer D.C.-related amendments Thursday. But Moran noted that he had personally supported the District abortion ban in the past. (He served in the House before being elected to the Senate.)

The House Appropriations panel passed its version of the spending bill in June, including the abortion funding ban and a ban on using federal money (but not local money) to pay for needle-exchange programs. The House bill would cut funds to the city by 10 percent compared with the current level.

Federal money makes up only a small portion of the District’s overall budget.

The House measure stalled before reaching the chamber floor, however, amid a jurisdictional fight over issues unrelated to the District. It’s unclear if the bill will ever reach the House floor on its own, or if it will simply be incorporated into some larger spending agreement later this year.

The abortion ban has been a sore subject in the city since President Obama cut a deal with Republicans earlier this year on a 2011 spending resolution that included the prohibition. That sparked outrage among local officials, and Mayor Vincent Gray and several city council members were arrested on Capitol Hill in an act of civil disobedience.

By  |  02:00 PM ET, 09/14/2011

 
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