Senate GOP needs Pence to break tie on family planning funds

by Garry Watts April 3, 2017, 3:05
Senate GOP needs Pence to break tie on family planning funds

Obama's rule told states they could not single out clinics that provide abortion along with other sexual and reproductive health services and strip funding from those clinics just because they provide abortion.

Senators approved the Republican legislation 51-50. The vice president rushed to the Senate to push the bill through after two female Republicans, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and Maine's Susan Collins, defected and voted against it.

Today, the U.S. Senate voted on a bill that allows states to block federal funding from abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. The rule forbids states from withholding Title X grants from healthcare providers who provide abortion services.

Secondly, says the pro-life spokesperson, the vote "proved that the votes exist in the U.S. Senate to send a reconciliation bill that further defunds Planned Parenthood by redirecting their Medicaid funding to community health centers". Obama administration officials said it was necessary because thirteen states had tried, since 2011, to limit federal grants to family planning organizations.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)-who sat on the Senate floor and waited for Pence to arrive-pledged that Democrats would spend Thursday afternoon speaking out against the GOP-effort.

Vice President Mike Pence was the deciding vote, both in a procedural vote earlier that morning and in the final vote to advance the bill. The funds, though, already can not go to abortion services, Democrats said. She praised Republicans for "ensuring that states are not forced to fund America's abortion giant, Planned Parenthood" and she pointed to the next fight.

VP Pence breaks tie on family planning funding vote
Planned Parenthood also is the nation's largest abortion network - performing over a third of all abortions in the U.S. He previously broke a tie on the nomination of Betsy DeVos to be education secretary.

Divisions over Planned Parenthood could also be a major sticking point in upcoming negotiations to fund the government, which is set to run out of money at the end of April. The bill has already passed the House and now moves to President Donald Trump's desk. In the programs main priorities for 2017, "assuring the delivery of quality family planning and related preventive health services, with priority for services to individuals from low-income families", topped the list.

"I'm on the team and I'll be doing what Mitch needs me to do", he said, referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who must decide if he will use the nuclear option.

Thursday's vote was Pence's second tiebreaker of his young term.

Although Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers can receive Title X grants, legislatures have blocked them from receiving the funding in almost a dozen states.

"This legislation does not prevent Planned Parenthood or any other entity from receiving Title X funds", Ernst said immediately after the vote.

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