Senate GOP needs Pence to break tie on family planning funds

Vice President Mike Pence cast a rare tie-breaking vote Thursday in the Senate to advance a motion that would allow states to withhold federal funds from health care clinics like Planned Parenthood. Yet Republicans took it up as legislation. Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Republicans did not have enough votes with their slim 52-seat majority to advance the bill. For three sessions in a row, as the Governor of in, he introduced legislation to deny any funds to any Title X grantee if they also provide abortion services. Besides erasing much of former President Barack Obama's 2010 health care law, the abandoned House bill would have blocked federal funds for Planned Parenthood for a year.

Democrats criticized the measure as an attack on women's rights and abortion.

Democrats held the floor throughout the afternoon before the vote and repeatedly urged one more Republican to change their vote to block the measure, Life Site News reported.

Women's marches across the country have protested cuts to reproductive health care services.

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The Modernization of Sanctions Act also requires the executive to decide within 90 days on whether to make the redesignation. Its total imports from the North rose to $176.7 million in the month, up 47 percent from $119.9 million a year earlier.

The last time a vice president had to break a tie on final passage of legislation was almost a dozen years ago, when Richard B. Cheney voted for the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.

Pence delivered the tiebreaking vote to start debate on a resolution reversing an Obama administration action that prevented states from withholding family planning dollars from Planned Parenthood clinics. Planned Parenthood offers hormone therapy for transgender clients and STD screenings. The four US representatives from Arkansas, all Republicans, had all voted in February to reject the Department of Health and Human Services rule.

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

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said the measure reverses a rule that "attempted to empower federal bureaucrats in Washington and silence our states". It now goes to the president, who is expected to sign it.

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

Pence, an evangelical Christian, was a leader in efforts to defund Planned Parenthood while serving in Congress and he co-sponsored "personhood" legislation calling for constitutional rights at the moment of fertilization. In the programs main priorities for 2017, "assuring the delivery of quality family planning and related preventive health services, with priority for services to individuals from low-income families", topped the list.

The House already had passed the legislation, 230-188, with 12 not voting. "If that happens, that's like 40 percent of Planned Parenthood's budget, they are just going to be closing down clinics dozens of them".

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