From the streets to the lobbies


Issue: "Illegal siblings project," Feb. 2, 2002

Capitol Hill was still quiet for the Roe vs. Wade anniversary, since it was the last day before Congress resumed its legislative business. But pro-life legislators weren't taking the day off.

Rep. Melissa Hart climbed aboard a bus at her church in Wexford, Pa., at 5:30 a.m. en route to address the March for Life crowd. A freshman who is the only Republican woman on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Hart told WORLD she would reintroduce her proposal to prevent high-school health clinics from distributing the "morning after" abortion pill without parental consent. She introduced the idea as an amendment to an appropriations bill last fall, only to face major pressure from Speaker Dennis Hastert and others to put the measure aside.

Did she learn a freshman's lesson? Yes. "They say there are three parties in Washington: Republicans, Democrats, and appropriators," and the appropriators wanted her amendment on ice. This year, she'll introduce a separate bill, but members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee are likely to give it the same treatment the "appropriators" gave it.

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Other than his plans to push a cloning ban, Sen. Rick Santorum most urgently feels the need to break the Senate Democrats' stranglehold on President Bush's judicial nominations. "If Orrin Hatch was doing this, it'd be all over the national news that ultra-right, conservative Christian fundamentalist wackos were holding up these mainstream judges," Mr. Santorum said. "I voted for most Clinton nominees, since the Constitution gives the president the right to name judges. Now President Bush won the election. [Judiciary Committee chairman] Pat Leahy's got to get over that."

Despite little public attention on the judicial deadlock and little protest from the Bush bully pulpit, Mr. Santorum told WORLD that Senate Republicans and the White House "are all very focused on working with inside groups and outside groups to underline the horrible record of Senate Democrats" on nominations. Mr. Santorum has also talked with White House counsel Al Gonzales about the possibility of rewriting a partial-birth abortion ban that the Supreme Court wouldn't overturn.

The only current pro-life disappointment with a GOP appointment came with the naming of Lewis Eisenberg, an activist in the liberal Republican Leadership Council, as the new Republican National Committee finance chairman. Pro-life activists tried to persuade the party to reject Mr. Eisenberg at RNC's winter meeting in Austin, Texas, but he was selected, with new RNC chairman Marc Racicot saying he was the right man "regardless of ideology."

Family Research Council president Ken Connor said, "It is simply mind-boggling that GOP leaders would consider for the powerful position of finance chairman someone who contributed to Walter Mondale and not Ronald Reagan." (Mr. Eisenberg also gave to 1988 presidential nominees Joe Biden and Bruce Babbitt.) Club for Growth president Stephen Moore said Mr. Eisenberg was a poor choice to both "economic and social conservatives." But National Right to Life Committee official David O'Steen told reporters that he was "delighted" with the pro-life leadership of Mr. Racicot, and doubted Mr. Eisenberg's naming would matter much since "it's not a policy position. It's based on whether he would be a good finance chairman."


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