U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)Photo credit: Dave Davidson (Prezography.com)
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)
Photo credit: Dave Davidson (Prezography.com)

See update/correction below.

Original article: On Wednesday a continuing resolution that funded Planned Parenthood passed in the U.S. House and Senate. Among Iowa’s Congressional delegation U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) and Congressman David Young (R-Iowa) voted in favor of the resolution.

Congressmen Rod Blum (R-Iowa) and Steve King (R-Iowa) did not.  Ernst and Grassley voted in favor of an earlier continuing resolution that placed an moratorium on Planned Parenthood funding that failed on a cloture vote. Blum, King and Young voted in favor of an amendment to the CR that placed a moratorium on Planned Parenthood funding that passed the House, but was not included in the Senate version of the bill sent back to the House for a vote later in the day.

On Tuesday the House passed a bill that allowed states to withhold Medicaid funding to groups that perform abortion. Blum, King, and Young voted in favor of that bill’s passage. The Senate is not expected to approve that measure.

King prior to the vote in the House attempted to add four amendments to the the continuing resolution.

“For months Members of the House have been saying we need to stand on principle,” said King. “This is why I have introduced four amendments to the CR in Rules Committee today. My four amendments, simply put, will defund Planned Parenthood, the Iran nuclear deal, the President’s amnesty – DACA and DAPA, and ObamaCare. If each of my amendments were passed we would restore much of our Article I authority in Congress. The American people are expecting leadership from the House of Representatives on the issues they care about the most. If we pass a clean CR we are only, once again, kicking the can down the road. Right now we are situated to actually fight to defund these items – and the American people are pleading with us to do so.”

Ernst released a statement explaining her vote.

“Like many Iowans, I’m tired of Washington’s dangerous and shortsighted habit of governing from one emergency to the next. The American people deserve better which is why Congress passed a budget that balances, for the first time in over a decade. Congress must work together in an open and collaborative dialogue to find the best path forward in order to ensure the government runs efficiently and effectively,” Ernst said.

“Prior to this vote, I supported a CR that would have placed a moratorium on Planned Parenthood funding for one year as congressional investigations seek answers over whether the organization is profiting from the selling of baby body parts. It would have protected women’s health funding by redirecting those funds from Planned Parenthood to community health centers and other eligible entities. Although that measure did not pass, I remain committed to exposing Planned Parenthood’s blatant disregard for human life and seeking answers to the many questions raised by the recent videos,” Ernst added. “In the meantime, we must pass this short-term spending bill and then turn our focus to a sustainable plan forward that builds a path toward fiscal solvency for our nation and preserves our national security to keep all Americans safe and protected.”

Blum voted no because of the short-term nature of the funding.

“Today I voted no on the continuing resolution because I believe that short term, last minute funding measures that kick the can down the road are not the proper way to run our country. When regular order is abandoned in favor of back room deals the American people are not truly represented. No wonder nearly 70% of Americans think our country is headed in the wrong direction: career politicians from both sides of the aisle refuse to accept responsibility and do the job they were elected to do,” Blum said.

Update: James Carstensen who serves as the chief of staff for Congressman David Young (R-Iowa) contacted Caffeinated Thoughts to say that this article was mistaken, that the continuing resolution Congressman Young voted on did not fund Planned Parenthood.  The CR does not defund Planned Parenthood, but it doesn’t fund it either. I apologize for the error.

Below is his email in full:

Shane – someone has misinformed you on planned parenthood funding and the cr.

As you may know, the House and Senate passed a short-term bill that funds federal government operations through December 11th. There was some confusion that this measure allowed for continued federal funding of Planned Parenthood. That narrative is false – as Carol Tobias, President of National Right to Life correctly noted: “federal Planned Parenthood fund funds flow through “entitlement” programs such as Medicaid – and those entitlement programs do not do not depend on enactment of the annual funding bills”.

This was also verified by the legislative research branch of Congress and the respected Politifact website.

What action has the U.S. House of Representatives taken on this issue?

The House of Representatives has already passed three bills to defund or rein in Planned Parenthood’s abortion activities and is continuing those efforts.

On Friday, September 18, Congressman Young voted in support of H.R. 3134 – the Defund Planned Parenthood Act. This bill prohibits any federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood or any of its affiliates and clinics for one year unless they can certify that no abortions will be performed at the facility, except in cases of rape, incest or if a woman’s life is endangered. In addition, the group would be prohibited from providing money to another entity to perform an abortion. The U.S. Department of Health Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture would be required to recoup all federal assistance if Planned Parenthood or its affiliates and clinics violate these terms. H.R. 3134 passed the House by a vote of 241-187.

On Friday, September 18, David also voted for H.R. 3504 – the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. This bill would require any health care practitioner present when a baby is born alive following an abortion to take all efforts to save the child. It would also ensure the criminal prosecution for murder anyone who kills a baby following a botched abortion. H.R. 3504 also passed the House by a vote of 248-177.

On Tuesday, September 29, David voted in support of H. R. 3495 – the Women’s Public Health and Safety Act. This bill would grant states the authority to disqualify health care providers that perform abortions from its state Medicaid plan. The bill would not apply to cases of rape, incest, or endangerment of the mother’s life. This bill also was passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 236-193.

Further, in the coming weeks, the House and Senate will take straight up-or-down votes on a bill that will defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, which is very similar to the House-passed Defund Planned Parenthood Act, and send it to President Obama’s desk.

Because the House and new Republican Senate passed a joint budget for the first time since 2009, they were able to give what are known as “reconciliation instructions” to committees, which require them to pass bills meeting specific deficit reduction targets. The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed its reconciliation bill on September 29, which would prohibit federal funds from going to abortion providers for the next year. Reconciliation rules allow both chambers to take a straight up-or-down vote on the bill, meaning Congressional Republicans can use this one chance to overcome the Senate’s cloture rule (which requires 60 votes in the Senate to end debate on a bill and move into a majority rules vote on the bill) to place a Planned Parenthood defunding bill on President Obama’s desk. The President will be forced to sign or explain to Americans why he vetoed it.

Also, while budget rules do not allow for the reconciliation process to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act law (Obamacare), the House package does include the repeal of a number of the law’s worst parts including the individual and employer mandate taxes, the Medical Device Tax, and the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

Please let me know if I can answer any questions regarding these developments or provide you with additional information on these or other issues being debated by Congress.

-James

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