House Republicans failed to pass legislation to fund Agriculture, Rural Development and the Food and Drug Administration late Thursday night after more than two dozen moderate Republicans came out against a provision that would limit access to an abortion pill.
The chamber voted down the measure in a 191-237 vote, with 27 Republicans joining all Democrats in opposition.
The failed vote marks a setback for Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who has been working to clear fiscal year 2024 appropriations bills ahead of the Sept. 30 government funding deadline.
Passing the agriculture legislation — or the other 11 appropriations bills — would not help Congress fund the government and avoid a shutdown by Saturday’s midnight deadline, but House GOP leaders are hoping that the consideration of the single-subject funding measures will help sway hardline conservatives to support a stopgap bill to keep the lights on in Washington past the weekend deadline.
Thursday night’s failed vote, however, did not come as a total surprise.
The funding bill was on thin ice Wednesday, when a handful of GOP moderates said they would not support the legislation because it included a provision that would limit access to mifepristone, an abortion pill. The legislation calls for nullifying a Biden administration rule allowing mifepristone to be sold in retail pharmacies and by mail with prescriptions from a certified health care provider.
Reps. Nancy Mace (R – S.C.) Marc Molinaro – R – N.Y. – said on Wednesday that the mifepristone provisions in the bill prevented them from supporting it. Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., told reporters that his position on the bill has not changed. The agriculture funding bill includes a series of cuts to spending that Democrats say will harm the recipients of WIC and other programs. The agriculture funding bill pursues a menu of spending cuts, which Democrats have said would harm recipients of programs like Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).