Joseph Russell Pitts (born October 10, 1939) is a former American politician who served as the U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania's 16th congressional district from 1997 to 2017. He is a member of the Republican Party. The district is based in Lancaster and Reading and includes much of Amish country. It also includes the far southwestern suburbs of Philadelphia in Chester County.
In December 2015, Congressman Pitts announced he would not run for reelection in 2016.
Artcicle called ¨Pitts op-ed misses mark on Democrat 'betrayals' over ObamaCare¨ written by BART STUPAK, an American politician and lobbyist.
I read with great interest the recent editorial from former Congressman Joe Pitts in The Hill, referencing the Stupak-Pitts amendment, the ObamaCare executive order, and his reasons why Republican members of Congress should exercise caution when voting for ObamaCare replacement legislation. My friend Joe Pitts claims that 10 Democrats lost their reelection bids because they “betrayed” the right-to-life movement.
These Democrats voted in favor of the Affordable Care Act after reaching an agreement with the president on an executive order which encompassed the Hyde and the Stupak-Pitts amendments. A colloquy on the floor of the House of Representatives established the legislative intent that the Hyde Amendment would be maintained in the executive order.
Through his executive order, which the president referred to as “iron clad,” no taxpayer funds could be used to pay for, encourage or offer insurance policies that paid for abortions.
The Obama administration also honored the executive order by immediately requiring that all states accessing the federally funded catastrophic fund not use federal dollars to fund abortions. Several states, including Congressman Pitts’s home state of Pennsylvania, were required to change their state laws in order to access the federal funding.
The Obama administration’s rules and regulations stated unequivocally that funds, grants and loans provided for under ObamaCare could not be used to pay for abortions. Further, as negotiated in the executive order, the administration explicitly stated that abortions would not be performed at community health centers. Expansion of the community health centers was also included under ObamaCare to provide greater access to healthcare for all Americans.
Unfortunately, in January 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services was allowed to violate the executive order when it mandated that each insurance policy offered on the exchange incorporate the essential benefits package including contraception services embracing abortion coverage. Under this HHS regulation, Americans were also granted the option of purchasing an insurance policy with the essential benefits package specifically excluding abortion coverage.
I have the utmost respect for Congressman Joe Pitts and I enjoyed working with him on right-to-life issues. However, Joe has allowed his strong right-to-life advocacy to get ahead of the facts. The executive order negotiated by the White House counsel and six right-to-life Democrats provided the critical votes to pass the Affordable Care Act.
The executive order won praise from many religious organizations including the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican, through its semi-official publication, La Civilta Cattolica, (Articles in the Journal are vetted by the Vatican Secretariat of State) praised the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the Executive Order by stating that the right-to-life Democrats did “…everything possible to obtain the approval of the health care reform without neglecting to respect unborn life”.
Of the six Democrats who stood with me, three retained their seats and three lost reelection. It was not unusual that the three freshmen members who lost their first reelection bids did so because they had been elected in President Obama’s landslide election of 2008. What was unusual, and very disappointing, was the vitriolic and malicious campaigns funded by Susan B. Anthony and other right-to-life organizations.
The lessons from Congressman Joe Pitts’s editorial are not that Democratic right-to-life members let down the right-to-life movement, just the opposite is true. As referenced in the statement from the Vatican and reinforced by President Obama’s strict adherence to the executive order from 2010 to 2012, the principles upheld by these right-to-life Democrats guaranteed that no public funds be used to pay for abortions and that the sanctity of life would be respected at every stage.
The real betrayal came from the right-to-life organizations that viciously attacked the Democratic right-to-life Members through their lies, deceptions and “fake news.” The real danger for members of Congress as they vote to replace ObamaCare lies in the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the cases of Citizens United v. FEC and Susan B. Anthony Fund v. Driehaus.
The Citizens United decision allows vast amounts of unaccountable money to flow through various groups and organizations and is used to discredit and destroy targeted candidates and political opponents. The Susan B. Anthony Fund v. Driehaus decision allows intentional misrepresentations, false statements, and fake news concerning a Member’s voting record as electoral, political speech.
During his reelection bid in 2010, Congressman Steven Driehaus was repeatedly and viciously attacked by the Susan B. Anthony Fund stating that Steve unequivocally voted for taxpayer-funded abortions under ObamaCare. The Ohio Election Commission determined that the Susan B. Anthony Fund ads were false and illegal under Ohio law.
The Susan B. Anthony Fund then appealed to the federal court which affirmed the Ohio Election Commission finding. U.S. District Court Judge Black stated in his opinion and order that “The express language of the PPACA [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] does not provide for taxpayer funded abortion. That is a fact, and it is clear on its face.” The Susan B. Anthony Fund was forced to admit that it had lied in its political ads against Congressman Driehaus.
It is estimated that over 60 percent of the current members serving in the U.S. House of Representatives were elected following the passage of ObamaCare. These new members are clueless as to the intricacies involved in drafting, passing and implementing the Affordable Care Act.
Now they are being asked to repeal and replace what is considered to be one of the most comprehensive pieces of legislation enacted in our nation’s history. These new members must be granted the opportunity of studying and digesting the proposed legislation and make decisions to support or oppose it based on its merits. As their Democratic predecessors resolved, decisions on healthcare must not be based on fear, intimidation, deceit and threats from dark money and special interests.