Pence breaks Senate tie on killing family-planning grants rule

The bill allowing states to withhold funding from Planned Parenthood is the latest in a series of steps Republicans have taken to undo Obama-era regulations using the Congressional Review Act.

Following a standstill in the Senate over legislation to lift federal protections on Planned Parenthood funding, Vice President Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking vote to allow the bill to move forward.

The measure, which now goes to President Trump for his signature, dismisses an Obama-era rule banning states from denying federal funds to such organizations.

Democrats criticized the measure as an attack on women's rights and abortion.

Each year, the federal government gives money to states earmarked for family-planning services. "It would let states treat women as second-class citizens who don't deserve the same access to health care as men".

Under the Constitution, the vice president casts tie breaking votes.

The Republicans claim the organization uses taxpayer money to provide abortions, which is just not true, considering most patients pay for such services out of their own pockets unless their health insurance covers it.

If Planned Parenthood wants to be involved in providing counseling services and HIV testing, they ought not be in the business of providing abortions.

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A sign is pictured at the entrance to a Planned Parenthood building in NY.

A final vote is expected later Thursday afternoon.

"Republicans are continuing on their extreme, anti-women agenda, rushing to roll back a rule that protects family planning providers", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said of the bill.

It must be noted that Title X money can not be used to pay for abortions, so Republicans' efforts to withdraw this funding for family planning clinics that administer the procedure only take away resources for services like cancer screenings, birth control and STD testing, among others.

While serving in Congress, Pence was a leader in efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.

In a split decision, 50 Republican senators voted for the bill, while 48 Democrats and two Republicans voted against it. Oftentimes, Title X grants help low-income or uninsured women who would otherwise not be able to receive healthcare or family planning options such as birth control. The vote had been held open for a full hour so Isakson, who had just landed at Reagan National Airport after a flight from Atlanta, could make it.

The House already had passed the legislation, 230-188, with 12 not voting.

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

  • Adam Floyd