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Budget committee passes FRA renewal along with bill targeting Planned Parenthood

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The House Budget Committee nearly unanimously passed the Senate’s FRA renewal package Tuesday afternoon. 

SB 1, which renews the Medicaid provider tax for three years, passed 27-2 out of committee with Republican Reps. Sara Walsh and Richard West as the lone no votes. The full House is set to convene Wednesday morning to take up the package. 

The FRA renewal bill also included a provision banning Medicaid coverage of abortifacients. Rep. Cody Smith, who chairs the Budget Committee and presented the Senate bill, said it was “misleading” to call this bill a “clean FRA” because of the additional provision. 

Missouri Right to Life testified against the package because it did not include more stringent anti-abortion language. After the Senate approved the legislation in an early morning vote Saturday, the organization said it was “disappointed” in the 12 GOP senators who voted against an amendment that would prohibit outright Medicaid dollars from going to abortion providers and their affiliates. 

“I believe the Missouri Senate put us in a difficult place,” Susan Klein, Missouri Right to Life’s executive director, testified Tuesday.

Rep. Nick Schroer’s bill bars public funding to go toward abortion facilities, affiliates, or associates. (HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS/TIM BOMMEL)

“With the Hyde Amendment on the chopping block in Congress and without the Senate putting substantive prolife language in the FRA to ensure no tax dollars go to abortion providers and their affiliates, I could not in good conscience be a yes at this point in the event HB 2 (which I co-sponsored and codifies in statute pro-life language to prevent public tax dollars from funding abortion) doesn’t pass the Senate,” Walsh told The Missouri Times. “I have always been a staunch supporter of defunding Planned Parenthood.”

The House Budget Committee also voted out HB 2 from Rep. Nick Schroer Tuesday among party lines. His bill does not contain FRA renewal language but instead bars public funding to go toward abortion facilities, affiliates, or associates. It also declares the federal government cannot coerce Missouri into administering or enacting any regulatory program that directly or indirectly funds abortions — a measure supporters said was meant to warn the federal government Missouri would not recognize a repeal of the Hyde Amendment.

Pro-life Missourians have expressed concerns that the Biden administration would do away with the Hyde Amendment which bars federal funds from paying for abortions unless the woman’s life is at stake or in the case of rape or incest. Schroer said his bill does not change the provisions of the Hyde Amendment but instead seeks to prop up Missouri to continue enforcing it. 

During Tuesday’s lengthy and often emotional hearing, Schroer criticized Planned Parenthood and said his bill was meant to “defund” the organization. His bill allows the Department of Social Services to cancel or revoke provider contracts if it or any of its employees have a “pattern of intentional discrimination … based on the race, color, or national origin of recipients.” During the hearing, Schroer pointed to the Planned Parenthood founder’s connection to eugenics. 

“I’m not for cancel culture, but if we’re going to cancel anything, certainly I think it should be this organization,” Schroer said. 

It’s unclear if the Senate plans to reconvene to tackle HB 2. Gov. Mike Parson gave lawmakers a July 1 deadline to pass an FRA reauthorization plan.

As lawmakers argued over language regarding Planned Parenthood and birth control, Parson warned he would have to withhold a “detrimental” $722 million from across state government, including education and foster care services, without renewing the FRA. 

During the Budget Committee, Smith was praised by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle for working to get the FRA done during regular and special sessions. 

Earlier this month, Attorney General Eric Schmitt joined a letter urging Congress not to omit the Hyde Amendment from the budget.