Pence Casts Tie-Breaking Vote to Reverse Obama Rule on Planned Parenthood

Late in the Obama administration, the Department of Health and Human Services enacted a rule to stop states from defunding Planned Parenthood. On Thursday afternoon, the Senate voted 51-50 to overturn that rule.

The effort to reverse the Obama administration’s rule was led in the Senate by Joni Ernst of Iowa, and all of her fellow Republicans, except Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, supported the measure. All Democrats opposed it, so Vice President Mike Pence cast a vote to break the 50-50 tie.

To pass the measure, Republicans utilized the Congressional Review Act, which allows a simple majority in the Senate to repeal executive rules (rather than the typical 60 votes required to break a filibuster).

Efforts to defund Planned Parenthood gained momentum in 2015 after undercover videos revealed that the organization was involved in selling the body parts of aborted human beings to biotech companies. That year, the Senate utilized another process to bypass the filibuster (known as budget reconciliation) to pass a bill for the first time ever redirecting Planned Parenthood’s federal funding to community health centers.

The House reconciliation bill that was pulled from a vote last week also included the provision to defund Planned Parenthood. But even if Congress can’t come to an agreement on replacing Obamacare, there’s no reason it can’t use reconciliation to defund Planned Parenthood this year, as pro-life groups are urging Congress to do.

When Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was asked this week about using a government-funding bill, which must be passed by April 28 but can be filibustered by the Senate minority, to defund Planned Parenthood, Ryan said: “We think reconciliation is the tool because that gets it into law. Reconciliation is the way to go.”

This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard

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