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Ranking Member Cole Hearing Remarks on H.R. 4350, H.R.___ and H.R. 3755

As delivered during today’s hearing:

Our hearing today supposedly covers three items.  

The first of these I will address is, happily, a bipartisan measure: H.R. 4350, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022. It was produced largely in a bipartisan manner. The House Armed Services Committee, in its wisdom, chose to reject President Biden’s proposed underfunding of American defense and adopted an amendment sponsored by Ranking Member Rogers to ensure that our armed forces would receive funding commensurate with our national needs. Once that amendment was adopted, the measure was passed out of the Armed Services Committee with overwhelming bipartisan support.

I think the Armed Services Committee should be commended for its work on this measure, and its efforts should serve as a model for the rest of the House. Since the beginning of this Congress, Republicans have been asking for regular order. We see now what can be accomplished when we allow committees to work together, across the aisle, and to produce important legislation without interference from House leadership.

I’ll have much more to say on this measure when we debate the rule on the floor, but for now, so long as this bill remains largely in its current form and the funding levels remain where they are, I think you will see overwhelming support from Republicans.

The second measure was noticed as an unnumbered bill, which asserts to be a bill covering government funding. I say “asserts” because, although this bill was noticed on Friday, no text was included in the announcement. We still do not have text as of the beginning of this hearing. 

I have to say this is disappointing, Madam Chair. And I am unclear how we got to the point where the committee is ready to begin a hearing on a bill when we do not yet know its contents. 

According to the press reports, we may not even meet on this bill today. Madam Chair, can you tell me when we’ll be ready to meet on the continuing resolution or at least when we’ll see the text?

I’ll have more to say on this measure, again, when we have the text.

Our third bill is even more misguided and is a truly unprecedented piece of legislation. H.R. 3755 is being billed by the majority as legislation that would codify the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe versus Wade, but instead it is the fiercest assault on the unborn since Roe was decided. Instead of codifying Roe, the bill before us today preempts any state laws that seek to protect life.

Instead of allowing commonsense regulations to protect the unborn, every single state in the country would be required to allow abortion on demand up to the point of viability. No more would states be allowed to protect conscience rights, no more would they be able to ban certain barbaric procedures, like dismemberment abortion, and no more would they be able to prevent sex-selective abortions or abortions targeting fetuses with Down Syndrome.   

What’s worse, the primary limitation in this bill – the point of viability – is left entirely up to the discretion of the individual providing the abortion. And prominent abortion advocates have been clear that the point of viability may extend all the way until a fetus has reached full term. This bare fig leaf of a protection for the unborn turns out to be no protection at all.

Defending life, particularly for the most vulnerable among us, is one of my highest priorities as a Member of Congress. I would remind everyone of the words enshrined in the Declaration of Independence: that the right to life is one of those unalienable rights endowed by our Creator. It is with that in mind that I strenuously oppose this bill and would urge all members to reject it.

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