- The Washington Times - Monday, June 10, 2019

Sen. Chris Coons on Monday said anyone serving in Congress who votes for spending bills supports the Hyde Amendment as a matter of course and cited a “misunderstanding” of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s position amid Mr. Biden’s recent flip-flop-flip on the issue of taxpayer funding for abortions.

“I’ll remind you: Any of us who serve in Congress have voted for the Hyde Amendment, because it’s been a part of the budget package that keeps the government open year after year after year,” Mr. Coons, Delaware Democrat, said on CNN’s “New Day.”

Mr. Coons, who has endorsed Mr. Biden for president, said that for a long time, the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing the right to an abortion was “the law of the land,” but the Hyde Amendment prevented federal funding of abortions.

SEE ALSO: Sen. Chris Coons: Trump created tariff conflict with Mexico to fire up his base

He said that what’s changed “dramatically” is President Trump’s appointing “a record number of anti-choice judges” and new, broad restrictions on abortion in states like Georgia.

Mr. Coons and Mr. Biden recently spoke, but the senator downplayed any role he might have played in Mr. Biden’s change of heart on the amendment, which generally bars federal funding from paying for abortions and has become a staple of annual appropriations bills Congress passes.

Mr. Biden had long supported the Hyde Amendment, but told an ACLU activist last month he would support getting rid of it.

But his campaign later said he misheard the question, and as recently as Wednesday said he still supported the amendment, which Democrats argue disproportionately affects lower-income and minority women.

Then on Thursday, Mr. Biden said he could no longer support it, citing recent GOP-led efforts to restrict abortion and saying he doesn’t want to make the “right” to health care dependent on someone’s “ZIP code.”

“He didn’t need me to persuade him. Joe is absolutely clear that since Roe versus Wade became the law of the land, he has been a tireless advocate for women’s rights, including access to reproductive” care, Mr. Coons said.

Asked what changed in a matter of 24 hours, Mr. Coons said: “What I think changed was a misunderstanding about what his position really is.”

“If you asked me on a previous interview, Chris, have you supported the Hyde Amendment? To be truthful, I’d have to say, I have voted for it,” he said. “I have voted for it over and over again — any of us who serve in the Senate: Senator Warren, Senator Gillibrand, Senator Booker — all of us have had to vote for it to keep the government open.”

Mr. Coons was then asked if Mr. Biden didn’t know that he no longer supported the amendment.

“Look, I think this was an important moment for him to look at the ways in which the Republicans have changed the environment we’re currently serving in,” he said. “It is just in last few weeks that states like Georgia have passed not just laws outlawing abortion, but outlawing abortion in all cases, including incest and rape, where it has become more extreme than it’s ever been in our lifetimes.”

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