This vote was on an amendment by John Ensign, R-Nev., that would adjust the budget resolution to allow for a $50 million increase in funding to enforce a future law requiring parental notification when a minor goes across state lines to have an abortion. Ensign has a bill pending before Congress that would establish such a restriction, however it has not been enacted into law.
The amendment was offered to the budget resolution that serves as the blueprint for Congress’ budget priorities in fiscal 2009. The budget resolution sets overall spending targets for the Appropriations committees and outlines other budget rules.
“’This is going to set up funding so the Child Custody Protection Act—the law that says we are going to protect young children from being taken across State lines to have a surgical procedure, a surgical abortion—we are going to make sure those people are protected,” Ensign said.
Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said that Ensign’s bill has not become law and is not likely to become law, and so the need for funding for it is suspect.
“If Senator Ensign’s bill becomes a law—which it is not the law; it has not passed this Senate in this Congress and I do not believe people feel it is going to become law—if it does become law, then that money is already there to be used for such a program,” Boxer said. “But now to set aside funding for a bill that is not a law is the oddest kind of precedent. It is kind of “Alice in Wonderland,” to be honest with you. Every one of us could take our favorite bill and say: Let’s set aside funding in case my bill becomes law. This is not the way to legislate.”
By a vote of 49-49, the amendment was rejected. (A tie vote is recorded as a defeat.) Of Republicans present, all but four voted for the amendment. Of Democrats present, all but five voted against the amendment. (The most progressive members voted no.) The end result is that the budget resolution went forward without language that would have allowed for $50 million in funding to enforce a future hypothetical law requiring parents to be notified if a minor went across state lines to obtain an abortion.