Senate GOP needs Pence to break tie on family planning funds

Maryland lawmakers approve bill to preserve funding for Planned Parenthood

The Obama rule did not require states to award federal grants for abortion services but had prohibited them from denying health centers funding purely on the basis that they administer abortions.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican Leader, said that the HHS regulation "is an unnecessary restriction on states that know their residents own needs a lot better than the Federal Government".

Two Republicans did not vote along party lines, Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

House Republicans recently could not muster enough votes to pass the American Health Care Act, which would have stripped Planned Parenthood of most federal funds.

This is a prophylactic measure to ensure that Maryland women, especially those with low incomes, will be able to get the health care they need if the Republican-controlled Congress gets their way and eviscerates the budget for Planned Parenthood.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, the annual budget for family planning is about $13 million, $4 million of which is from federal funding.

Democrats condemned the measure throughout the day, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of NY calling it "another example of the Republican war on women".

"It would let states treat women as second-class citizens who don't deserve the same access to health care as men", he said.

Putin meets Le Pen
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday said Le Pen was not a "populist" but a "realist or anti-globalist" figure. As if to solidify her status as part of a global far right movement, Le Pen met with Putin on Friday.

Pence, as president of the Senate, was called in to cast the decisive vote.

Federal law, through the Hyde Amendment, already prohibits federal dollars from directly funding abortions.

Naturally, Planned Parenthood ridiculed the bill, saying it could encourage states to discriminate against family planning healthcare providers that also offer abortions. "A final vote on getting rid of the Obama-era rule could happen as early as Thursday afternoon".

"I want Senate Republicans who are about to take this vote, and Vice President Pence, to be very clear on what they are about to do", said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who introduced the legislation to repeal the regulation in the Senate, thanked her colleagues for their support of the measure and said she anticipates that President Donald Trump will sign it.

Thursday's vote was Pence's second tiebreaker of his young term.

The organization issued a statement which read, in part, "Four million people depend on the Title X family planning program, and this move by DC politicians would endanger their health care".

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, noted that Pence's tiebreaking vote came just a day after he participated in a women's empowerment forum at the White House.

The Title X grants given to Planned Parenthood can not be used for abortion services.

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