According to Fox News, Vice President Mike Pence was required to fulfill the role of Senate tie-breaker for the second time in the young administration of President Donald Trump, this time on a bill regarding federal funding for abortion-providing health care clinics such as Planned Parenthood.
The bill, which had been previously passed by the House, will now go to Trump’s desk for a signature.
Pence’s vote proved necessary after two nominal Republican senators, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins, switched sides and voted with Democrats to kill the bill. Republicans were also compelled to bring in recovering Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson, who has been absent since mid-February after undergoing two back surgeries, just to reach the tie vote.
The Republican-backed bill made use of the Congressional Review Act to roll back a last-minute regulation imposed by former President Barack Obama’s Health and Human Services Department that significantly limited the ability of the sovereign states to deny issuing Title X federal family planning funds to abortion providing clinics.
As could be expected, Planned Parenthood was none too pleased by the vote and issued a statement making its feelings on the matter perfectly clear, according to NBC News.
“Mike Pence went from yesterday’s forum on empowering women to today leading a group of male politicians in a vote to take away access to birth control and cancer screenings,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood.
“There’s a reason they could barely get enough votes to get this bill through a procedural step: People are sick and tired of politicians making it even harder for them to access health care, and they will not stand for it,” she added.
However, the idea that only male politicians were in favor of the bill that would allow states to dictate where funding goes didn’t really hold much water, considering numerous female Republican members of Congress voted to pass the bill, such as Tennessee Rep. Diane Black.
“The Obama rule tried to force states — including Tennessee — to send taxpayer money to abortion providers like Planned Parenthood instead of community health centers and other qualified health providers,” Black in a statement to NBC. “Title X has worked for 45 years until the Obama administration changed the rules, and this legislation will simply undo this ill-conceived change.”
Bloomberg noted that the regulation had only taken effect just days before Trump’s tenure in office began, and pointed out that an even bigger fight over Planned Parenthood could be right around the corner.
It is expected that a measure to strip all federal funding from Planned Parenthood could become an issue as Congress hashes out legislation in late April to avoid a government shutdown when current spending authorizations run out.
Vice presidents rarely have to cast a tie-breaking vote, but Pence has needed to do so twice in two months, signifying just how bitterly partisan the ideological split in Congress is at the moment.
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