Pence Breaks Tie in Vote Targeting Planned Parenthood

Malcolm Fuller
March 31, 2017

Pence, a long-time opponent of abortion rights, voted with the 50 other Republicans to proceed to a vote to roll back an Obama administration rule that barred states from cutting off federal family-planning money to abortion providers. During that time, the GOP got Pence to the Senate to break a 50-50 tie and cast the deciding vote. The first came February 7, when he cast the deciding vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as education secretary.

The measure in question would repeal an Obama administration rule that was created to prevent states from blocking Title X funding from going to health care providers that perform abortions.

In a 51-50 vote, senators approved killing a rule meant to keep federal grants flowing to clinics that provide contraception and other services in states that want to block the funding. Pence is expected to return to the Senate on Thursday afternoon for a final vote on the Title X measure. In recent years states such as Texas have kept some healthcare providers from receiving the grants, as part of the country's longstanding fight over abortion.

Under the Constitution, the vice president doubles as the president of the Senate and has the power to break ties.

The rule said that a state can not deny funding to clinics for reasons unrelated to their ability to provide basic family planning services.

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There's a reason they could barely get enough votes to get this bill through a procedural step: "People are sick and exhausted of politicians making it even harder for them to access health care, and they will not stand for it", Planned Parenthood Vice President Dawn Laguens said in a statement.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA, spoke on the Senate floor against the bill multiple times.

"Women and men are watching what is happening here, watching what Republicans are trying to do and they are paying attention", she wrote. Schumer also spoke at the Planned Parenthood rally yesterday.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump wants lawmakers to set aside money to start building his proposed border wall, but Democrats have said they will not support a spending bill that included funding for the barrier. Originally enacted in 1976, the law states that clinics can only use Title X grants for non-abortion health services.

US law already prohibits federal money from being used to pay for most abortions, but the GOP health overhaul would have cut off more than $400 million in Medicaid reimbursements and other federal funding to Planned Parenthood for non-abortion services. Congress has already used the law to eliminate Obama regulations that strengthened protections for streams near coal-mining operations and prevented some people with mental disorders from purchasing guns.

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