Joe Biden Heading Toward Clash With Progressives Over Hyde Amendment

President Joe Biden could be heading for conflict with progressive Democrats after he indicated on Tuesday that he would be willing to sign a social spending bill that contains the Hyde Amendment.

The amendment bans federal funding for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the woman's life. Most Democrats, particularly progressives, are opposed to the amendment, though Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has said the spending bill will fail without it.

While the fight over the social spending bill (currently a $3.5 trillion package) has mainly focused on the price tag, the amendment has emerged as another flashpoint that has exposed divisions within the party.

The bill—often referred to as the reconciliation bill, after the budget process that will allow Democrats to push it through along party lines—contains provisions to expand Medicaid, and bills dealing with Medicaid generally include the Hyde Amendment.

Biden was asked by a reporter at the White House on Tuesday: "Are you OK if the Hyde Amendment is in the reconciliation bill?"

The president replied: "I want to get the bill passed."

The reporter asked if he would sign the bill if the Hyde Amendment were included and Biden said: "I'd sign it either way."

The president's comments are likely to rile progressives who have been fighting for his spending agenda in recent weeks.

REPORTER: Are you OK if the Hyde Amendment is in the reconciliation bill?

BIDEN: … I want to get the bill passed.

REPORTER: Would you sign it if the Hyde Amendment is in [the bill]?

BIDEN: I’d sign it either

— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) October 5, 2021

The social spending bill (using the budget reconciliation process) would not require Republican support; however, Senators Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have said they will not support a spending bill this large.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), a group of about 95 Democratic members of Congress, are pushing for the spending bill to move forward.

Its chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal told CNN's State of the Union on Sunday that she would not vote for a bill that included the Hyde Amendment.

"Let's just wait, this is a negotiation and we've got to continue to move this forward, but the Hyde Amendment is something that the majority of the country does not support," Jayapal told CNN's Dana Bash.

"One in four women have had an abortion and need to have reproductive care in a very, very important time when those protections are being rolled back. That is nobody's business. It is our business as people that carry the babies. And you know, we have to be able to make the choices during our pregnancy," she said.

Jayapal was asked if she wanted federal spending in the reconciliation bill to pay for abortions and replied: "None of the dollars here are going for that."

Manchin's opposition to the reconciliation bill has been centered on the cost but he also told National Review on September 29 that if the Hyde Amendment was not included in the bill, then it would fail to pass.

"Yeah, we're not taking the Hyde amendment off. Hyde's going to be on," Manchin said.

"It has to be. It has to be. That's dead on arrival if that's gone," the senator added.

Biden came out against the Hyde Amendment in 2019 and on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the president was still opposed to it.

"I'm not going to negotiate the package from here, but, as you know, the president opposes the Hyde amendment," Psaki said.

Progressives in the House have pushed for the $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill to be linked to a separate $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, which has already been passed by the Senate. A vote on the bipartisan bill was due on Thursday but has been delayed with no indication of when it might take place.

Joe Biden speaks outside the White House.
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks about the need for Congress to raise the debt limit in the State Dining Room at the White House on October 4, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Biden has suggested that he would be billing to sign a reconciliation bill that includes the Hyde Amendment. Getty Images