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- The Senate passed H.J. Res. 43 in a 51 – 50 vote on Thursday.
- Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote.
- Two Republicans — Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) — voted against the resolution.
- The resolution withdrawals a 2016 Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule, which prohibited states from withholding federal Title X funds from clinics or health centers that offer abortion services.
- The 2016 rule amended 42 CFR § 59.3 to read as follows:
“(a) Any public or nonprofit private entity in a State may apply for a grant under this subpart.
(b) No recipient making subawards for the provision of services as part of its Title X project may prohibit an entity from participating for reasons other than its ability to provide Title X services.”
- The HHS rule cites the 2016 Appropriations Act, which states:
“No funds appropriated by this Act shall be available to pay for an abortion, or the administrative expenses in connection with any health plan under the Federal employees health benefits program which provides any benefits or coverage for abortions.
The provision of section 613 shall not apply where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term, or the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.”
- H.J. Res. 43 — which will now be sent to President Donald Trump for approval — states:
“Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the final rule submitted by Secretary of Health and Human Services relating to compliance with title X requirements by project recipients in selecting subrecipients.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That 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.”
- Congress appropriated $286.5 million for Title X funding for fiscal year 2016.
- Title X of the Public Health Service Act outlines the following requirements for grant recipients (42 USC 300):
“(c) A grant may be made or contract entered into under section 1001 or 1002 for a family planning service project or program only upon assurances satisfactory to the Secretary that–
(1) priority will be given in such project or program to the furnishing of such services to persons from low-income families; and
(2) no charge will be made in such project or program for services provided to any person from a low-income family except to the extent that payment will be made by a third party (including a government agency) which is authorized or is under legal obligation to pay such charge.”
- Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement:
“Today, Congress is sending a Resolution to President Trump ensuring that states are not forced to fund America’s abortion giant, Planned Parenthood, with Title X tax dollars…
Today’s vote makes it clear Congress also has the votes to send to President Trump a reconciliation bill that defunds Planned Parenthood of more than $400 million in taxpayer funding and instead funds community health centers. Women would be better served by these comprehensive health care entities, which outnumber the abortion chain by more than 20 to one nationwide. Planned Parenthood, which performs more than 320,000 abortions in a single year per their latest annual report, does not need or deserve taxpayer dollars.”
- Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa) — the bill’s co-sponsor — spoke in support of the bill during a floor speech:
“It should be the right of our States to allocate sub-grants under the Title X program in the way that best fits the needs of the people living there. Unfortunately, like many other rules issued during the Obama administration, this rule attempted to empower federal bureaucrats in Washington and silence our States…
The Obama Administration’s rule attempted to claim that providers like Planned Parenthood can ‘accomplish Title X programmatic objectives more effectively’. This rhetoric does not match the reality…
But let me be clear. Although it is no secret that I do not believe Planned Parenthood – the nation’s single largest provider of abortion services – is deserving of federal taxpayer dollars, this legislation does not prevent Planned Parenthood or any other specific entity from receiving Title X funds.
If states like Washington or Massachusetts want to distribute Title X sub-grants to Planned Parenthood, this legislation to overturn the Obama Administration’s rule won’t prevent them from doing so.
Nor does overturning the rule reduce overall funding levels for the Title X family planning programs.
In fact, this legislation does not in any way decrease women’s health care funding.
Rather, overturning the rule merely empowers States over a Washington-Knows-Best mentality and ensures that States have the ability to identify the best eligible Title X sub-grantees.
It restores local control and ensures that States aren’t forced by the Federal Government to provide abortion providers like Planned Parenthood with taxpayer dollars.”
- Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement:
“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. 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.
Four million people depend on the Title X family planning program, and this move by DC politicians would endanger their health care. This would take away birth control access for a woman who wants to plan her family and her future. Too many people still face barriers to health care, especially young people, people of color, those who live in rural areas, and people with low incomes.
We will never stop fighting for the right of every person to access the care they need.”
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) wrote on Facebook:
“The right-wing attack on women’s health care isn’t limited to Congress. In states all across the country, Republicans have been pulling political shenanigans to shut down women’s health care centers. Today, Congress is trying to make it easier for states to cherry pick which health centers receive Title X funding – a bipartisan federal grant program that provides birth control, cancer screenings and HIV testing to millions of women and men each year.
This attack on Title X is so unpopular that not even a majority of Republican Senators would support it – Vice President Mike Pence had to cast a deciding vote to put this Republican plan in motion.
I strongly support the Title X program, and I stand with the millions of American women who are sick of Republicans playing politics with basic medical care for women. Watch me tell Republicans that enough is enough: back off Title X, and back off our health care.”
Video of Vice President Pence casting the tie-breaking vote: