Republican senators, who initially threatened to filibuster the Defense Authorization bill over an amendment that would begin the process of repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law, have now decided to protest the measure “over a provision offered by Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) that would allow servicewomen to receive abortion care in military hospitals if they pay for the procedure themselves, CQ Today reports.”
The amendment “repealed the prohibition in the use of private funds to pay for abortion care in military hospitals but maintains restrictions on the use of federal money for abortion services at military hospitals except in case of rape, incest or life endangerment.” Last month, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16-10 to approve the Burris amendment,” but some Republicans are now seeking to control how service members appropriate their own private funds:
Some GOP senators have tied the abortion provision with legislation that would allow gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military, calling the measures examples of “social engineering” and vowing to filibuster when the bill is brought to the floor, CQ Today reports. In a May 28 floor speech, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said the abortion provision would allow military medical facilities “to be used for abortions performed late term, abortions performed for purposes of sex selection, abortions performed for any reason, abortions at will.” The amendment is “another piece of social engineering, another vast and serious and consequential departure from long-standing Department of Defense policy,” Wicker said, adding, “I guarantee you this will be challenged on the floor for the House and Senate with separate amendments.”
Republicans may be eager to re-litigate the abortion debate ahead of the midterm elections, but the measure places one more hurdle to passing the Defense Authorization measure before the August recess. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has not scheduled a date for bringing the measure to the Senate floor and President Obama has already issued a veto threat against the version of the bill passed by the House last Friday, which includes funding for a second engine for the F-35 fighter that both the Pentagon and the White House have said is a big waste of money.
Any attempt to filibuster the measure, however, will likely fail given the pro-choice voting record of the two Republicans senators from Maine.