Obama's 'Gift to Planned Parenthood' Revoke Bill Advances Thanks to Pence Vote

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 23, 2017. |

Vice President Mike Pence cast the tiebreaking procedural vote in the Senate to help advance a measure to overturn an Obama Era rule that attempted to block states from defunding Planned Parenthood.

Pence made the tiebreaker vote on Thursday after two Republican Senators had joined all Senate Democrats in opposing a motion to end debate on the bill.

"Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who has been recovering from two back surgeries and hasn't voted since Feb. 17, returned to the Senate to cast a vote, creating the tie that led to Pence's vote," reported The Hill.

"Leadership held the vote open for roughly an hour as they rounded up enough votes to move forward. A final vote on getting rid of the Obama-era rule could happen as early as Thursday afternoon."

President Obama speaks about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School
President Obama speaks about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, during a press briefing at the White House on Dec. 14, 2012. |

Last December, then President Barack Obama had the Department of Health and Human Services finalize a regulation barring states from withholding federal Title X family-planning funds from abortion providers.

It derived from a proposed rule posted online by HHS last September that invoked Title X in arguing that entities like Planned Parenthood should be allowed to use taxpayer funds on "family planning projects."

"The Department is proposing to amend the regulations at 42 CFR 59.3 to require that project recipients that do not provide services directly may not prohibit subrecipients from participating on bases unrelated to their ability to provide Title X services effectively," read the proposed rule at the time.

"The proposed rule will further Title X's purpose by protecting access of intended beneficiaries to Title X service providers that offer a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods and services."

In the background section, the proposed rule did note that with this interpretation of Title X, abortion is not expected to be part of the mandated taxpayer funding.

"By statute, Title X funds are not available to programs where abortion is a method of family planning (PHSA sec. 1008), and no federal funds in Title X or any federal program may be expended for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother would be endangered," it continued.

In January, soon after Donald Trump became president, Republican Congresswoman Diane Black of Tennessee introduced Joint Resolution 43, which sought to undo the Obama rule that critics labeled a "gift to Planned Parenthood."

"Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Secretary of Health and Human Services relating to compliance with title X requirements by project recipients in selecting subrecipients (81 Fed. Reg. 91852; December 19, 2016), and such rule shall have no force or effect," read H.J. 43.

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