Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a leading House member, shares how House Republicans are working to get a vote on legislation that would protect babies born alive after abortion. Read the transcript below or listen to the podcast.
Rachel del Guidice: We’re joined on The Daily Signal Podcast today by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Washington state. Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us today.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers: It’s great to be here at CPAC with you.
del Guidice: Well, thank you for joining us. I’d like to start off by getting your thoughts on the Senate’s recent failure to pass legislation to protect babies born alive after an abortion, and what the House is trying to do right now to pass a similar measure.
McMorris Rodgers: It’s just heartbreaking. I was disheartened by the vote, 44 senators that voted against legislation that would protect babies who were born alive, babies that had survived an abortion, were outside the womb, and yet they were not willing to bring in the insurer under law that they would bring in the doctor’s care.
In years past, this is passed with unanimous consent in the Senate. So it really exposed the extreme position that the left is taking right now, that Democrats are saying they reject legislation to protect babies born alive.
In the House, we are moving forward with a discharge petition. As you know, the Democrats have the majority in the House. One way that we can bring a bill to the floor is to demand a discharge petition.
You have to get 218 people to sign a discharge petition, and then you can bypass Speaker Nancy Pelosi and bring the bill directly to the floor. We’re working actively on that right now.
del Guidice: If my math is correct, I think Republicans would have to acquire about 21 signatures from House Democrats to force this floor vote. Do you think it’s possible to do that given that only three Democrats voted with Republicans in the Senate? Are you hopeful?
McMorris Rodgers: We’re going to keep raising awareness. It’s really encouraging to me to see the polling and the numbers that have changed, even across the country, since the born alive legislation has been brought forward. People across the country are looking at this vote in the Senate, where senators reject born alive legislation, and they’re saying, “That’s not right.”
And we’ve had a dramatic shift, a 17-point shift, in people in America that are now considering themselves pro-life. My hope would be that would also translate into support from legislators, from the elected representatives of the people.
del Guidice: Why do you think it’s been so difficult to gain support from Democrats on this legislation when it really doesn’t have anything to do with restricting abortion or women’s health, but just giving medical care to a baby that, as you know, the abortion was failed?
McMorris Rodgers: It’s really hard for me to understand. The science is on our side. The technology is on our side, as we are able to look inside the womb now.
It’s very different than where we were nearly 50 years ago. We can look inside, see that development day by day, week by week, of a baby that is developing within the womb.
My hope is that their hearts will be softened, and that they will look anew at this issue and be willing to embrace life and embrace what every life has to offer, the potential of every life.
del Guidice: One of your sons, Cole, is a special needs child. How has your experience with him helped shape your view on the pro-life issue?
McMorris Rodgers: Cole has only made me more passionate. I have been pro-life my entire life. Bringing a child, a baby into the world and getting this diagnosis isn’t anything that you ever dream. It’s not what you hope for. And yet today I, from the bottom of my heart, will say that I am thankful. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I so love this little guy, but I’m so grateful for the impact that he’s had on my life in changing and just opening my eyes, and making me more personally committed and passionate.
It’s like I knew it in my head, and now I know it in my heart. And I see every day, the impact that he’s having on me and my family, as well as my work on Capitol Hill, and for millions of others who have disabilities in America.
Last year during the tax bill, I was able to introduce legislation, “ABLE to Work,” that will now allow individuals with disabilities to go explore work and get a part-time job or an internship, and take that money and put it into their ABLE account, so it doesn’t count against their disabilities.
Today’s economy, thanks to President Trump and the tax reform and the regulatory reform, our economy is booming. We have record low unemployment, record low with African-Americans, with Hispanics, but also with people with disabilities. That number hadn’t changed in 40 years.
And we’re seeing the opportunity for those with disabilities now to work, to have a job. And a job is so much more than a paycheck. It’s what gives you purpose and dignity and that opportunity for a better life.
del Guidice: What do you think has contributed most to the record unemployment rates, especially with those who are disabled? Do you think it was tax reform or a mix of other things? What do you think has been one of the most substantial things to build that success?
McMorris Rodgers: I would credit the work that President Trump and his administration has done, yes, to partner with Congress, with the House and the Senate, in getting tax reform implemented, bringing down tax rates, simplifying the tax code, making sure that people have more money in their pockets, but also, lifting the regulatory burden.
The Obama administration had put a record number of regulations on our country, on every industry, and it was stifling our economy. And at that time, at the end of the Obama administration, they were saying that this is the new normal. We will never see growth above 2 percent GDP.
And yet, today we’re blowing those numbers of out the water. Just in January, another 305,000 new jobs in January. This is right after the holidays when normally the jobs report is not as good.
del Guidice: You recently said during a speech on the House floor, you were talking about the border wall situation. You said you were 100 percent with President Trump for building the wall. But the emergency declaration maintains the status quo. How do you think this crisis should be handled?
McMorris Rodgers: I made a very tough decision to not support the emergency declaration. I support the wall and I support President Trump’s efforts to get this wall built. He took an extreme measure in response to extreme tactics by the Democrats, who have been impossible.
They haven’t been willing to come to the table. They said, “Zero money.” They want open borders. They want ICE abolished.
When it comes to appropriations, when it comes to legislation, it is within Congress, within Article One, within the legislative branch, … the elected representatives of the people are the ones that are given the responsibility by the people to make funding decisions.
What needs to happen is that … we need to strike a deal. And there’s a deal to be had. I believe that an emergency order, though, is a dangerous precedent, and moves too far from the balance of power so wisely laid out in our Constitution.
del Guidice: I’d like to jump back really quick to tax reform. Are there any stories from constituents home back in Washington state, from small business owners, or others, where they’ve really seen a difference since tax reform?
McMorris Rodgers: Absolutely. I have so many stories. The lady who called my office, she was so excited when her paycheck went up. She was getting like $56 more each week in her paycheck. She was just so grateful. When they first readjusted her take-home pay, she was grateful for that.
But also, the examples of Hope House, which is a homeless shelter for women in Spokane that was bursting at the seams. I went and visited, and they couldn’t fit anymore women into this shelter. And it was sad to see the women that were there and sleeping on the floors. They got a million dollars from a major company in Washington state, who decided, because of tax reform, they were investing in the community.
And don’t you think that million dollars from a major company is going to go a lot further than if it had been kept in Washington, D.C., and then funneled through the bureaucracy and eventually, maybe, pennies would’ve got back to Spokane?
del Guidice: Wow. What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing that. I’d like to close with asking you: What is it like to be a pro-life woman in Congress, especially given the attacks on human life we’ve seen in New York state, legalizing abortion up to birth, and Virginia pursuing similar legislation? What is it like to be a pro-life woman in Congress today?
McMorris Rodgers: I’m proud to be a pro-life woman in Congress. And I’m proud to stand with my colleagues who are pro-life women in Congress. And I’m grateful for so many who have been battling and working to win hearts and minds, and to compel people to embrace life and embrace what life has to offer every person.
And after all these years, I believe that we’re on the verge of some major changes in this country. We see public opinion changing on the life issue. We are winning hearts and minds. And that means we’re going to have many more babies that are saved in the years to come.
del Guidice: Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us today.
McMorris Rodgers: Great to be with you. Thank you.
By Rachel del Guidice/The Daily Signal, where this column originally appeared.