Photo credit: American Life League (CC-By-NC 2.0)

President Barack Obama gave Planned Parenthood an 11th hour parting gift as he left office – a rule from Obama’s U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that directed state family planning money to Planned Parenthood.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted to overturn that rule with Vice President Mike Pence making the tie-breaking vote. Republican Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) joined Senate Democrats in voting no. Self-proclaimed pro-life Senators Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana) and Joe Manchin (R-West Virginia) also voted against the bill. The vote was taken a day after the Center for Medical Progress released a new video with unreleased footage showing a former medical director for Planned Parenthood in Arizona graphically describing the harvesting of babies’ organs in late-term abortions and the possible infanticide of babies born alive.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 229 to 188 in February on identical legislation. The Senate vote sends the Congressional Review Act to President Trump’s desk. U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) who sponsored the bicameral legislation along with Congresswoman Diane Black (R-Tennessee) spoke on the floor of the Senate after the bill’s passage.

Transcript:

Mr. President.

I rise today to thank my colleagues for their support of my legislation to overturn President Obama’s 11th hour rule that revoked States’ rights to determine the best eligible sub-grantees for Title X family planning funding.

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.

As we all know, States are closer to and more familiar with the health care providers and patients within their borders, and should be able to make their own decisions about the best eligible Title X sub-grantees – be it hospitals, federally qualified community health centers, or other types of providers.

A number of States have acted in recent years to prioritize Title X sub-grants to more comprehensive providers, where women can receive greater preventive and primary care than they can at providers like Planned Parenthood.

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.

In fact, after Representative Diane Black and I led more than 100 of our colleagues in pointing that out to the Obama administration, HHS acknowledged the challenge of measuring effectiveness across all types of Title X recipients and sub-recipients, and therefore, removed the word ‘effectively’ from the final rule.

So why was this rule implemented in the first place? It’s because the Obama administration wanted to do everything it could to secure federal funding streams for Planned Parenthood before they turned over the keys to the Trump administration.

With our vote today, we prevented that from happening.

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.

I appreciate my colleagues’ support of this legislation, and I look forward to President Trump signing it and scrapping the Obama Administration’s overreaching, 11th hour rule.

Thank you, Mr. President, and I yield the floor.

Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, praised the vote. “Today is a victory for states’ rights and for life. Congress has swatted back the overreaching hand of the federal government. The states know the needs of their citizens best, not the federal government,” Pence said.

“Beltway bureaucrats should not subjectively dictate how states allocate their Title X dollars, let alone force states to give that money to abortion providing facilities when there are other facilities equally, and often more qualified to provide Title X care,” Pence added. “Today, congressional oversight functioned as our Founders intended. State sovereignty has won the day, and the American people, as well as their health care, will be better for it.”

Marjorie Dannefelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, also applauded the bill’s passage.

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,” Dannenfelser said in a released statement. “We thank Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Senate Majority Leader McConnell, and of course Vice President Pence for their efforts to undo Obama’s parting gift to the big abortion industry led by Planned Parenthood.”

“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,” Dannenfelser added.

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