Pence breaks Senate tie on family-planning funds rollback

Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans on Thursday needed Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie on legislation to reverse an Obama administration rule protecting funds for Planned Parenthood and other family planning providers.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) did not vote with their Republican colleagues. Susan Collins of ME and Sen.

On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking procedural vote to stop federal funding for abortions.

The measure rolls back a regulation finalized at the end of President Barack Obama's administration that explicitly prevented states from denying federal Title X family planning funds to clinics, like Planned Parenthood, that also provide abortion services.

The nonprofit Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions and many other health and contraception services, receives some of the federal funding.

Prior to that, the last time a vice president broke a tie in the Senate was 2008, when then-Vice President Dick Cheney voted on tax legislation. "That's why Senate Democrats vote NO". The group is also a major recipient of Title X funding.

The measure passed the House 230-188 in February on a mostly party-line vote, with just two Republicans in that chamber voting against the bill.

Ahead of the final vote Thursday, Democrats had been slamming the GOP for considering repealing the Obama-era rule. "New York will not let the federal government's backward mentality stand in the way of women receiving the critical health services they are entitled to by law".

But Title X provides 4.6 million people each year with family planning services and women's health care.

The rule said that a state can not deny funding to clinics for reasons unrelated to their ability to provide basic family planning services. That's a clean and easy way for Washington to make sure Planned Parenthood gets its money without ever actually sending the butchers a check, and while claiming it has nothing to do with abortion. "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. But politicians and advocates who oppose abortion don't want any taxpayer dollars supporting any of Planned Parenthood's operation.

"Taking resources away from these providers would be cruel - and it would have the greatest impact on women and families who are most in need", said Sen. But several states with anti-abortion-rights legislatures, including Arkansas, have tried to block funds for Planned Parenthood.

The bill shields Planned Parenthood with $2 million from the State's Medicaid budget, and another $700,000 from the general fund should Republicans in Congress succeed in cutting off federal funds.