Pence breaks US Senate tie on killing family-planning grants rule

Mar 31, 2017, 00:33

While courts have not allowed states to withhold Medicaid money from Planned Parenthood, they've generally allowed states to redirect family planning dollars to other health providers.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) did not vote with their Republican colleagues. This is the second time Pence has had to break a tie since becoming VP; the last time a VP had to do it prior to Pence was in 2005, the Washington Post reports. Pence broke his first tie on the nomination of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, when the same two Republican senators, Collins and Murkowski, voted against her.

The measure would roll back an Obama-era rule that barred states from withholding funds from clinics that also offered abortion services.

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.

Another Nevada proposal seeks to provide alternative funding to help organizations such as Planned Parenthood. Seeing that there's pretty much zero chance of that getting 60 votes in the Senate, Republican leadership will be forced between a rock and a hard place on this one.

Senate Republicans called in Vice President Mike Pence Thursday after deadlocking 50-50 over abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.

Republicans said the Obama rule should be overturned to allow states the right to steer funds away from abortion providers, if they choose.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called the measure a "shameful, unsafe resolution". The House passed its version of the measure in February. "And it would undo a valuable effort by the Obama administration to ensure that health care providers are evaluated for federal funding based on their ability to provide the services in question, not on ideology". "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.

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

Defund Planned Parenthood but do so knowing the bill won't make it through the Senate.

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.

Most resolutions killing Obama-era regulations have sailed through the Republican-controlled Congress. Six in 10 say the program's services are their only or most frequent source of health care.

The Title X funding that could be blocked under bill covers services such as birth control, cancer screenings and HIV tests but cannot be used to pay for abortions.

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