Pence casts tiebreak­ing vote on abor­tion bill

States could block funds from clin­ics for other ser­vices.

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Lisa Mas­caro

Repub­li­cans needed Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence to cast a tie-break­ing vote Thurs­day in the Se­nate to ad­vance leg­is­la­tion that rolls back rules pre­vent­ing states from with­hold­ing cer­tain fed­eral funds to Planned Par­ent­hood and other abor­tion providers.

With op­po­si­tion from two Re­pub­li­can women, Sens. Su­san Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Repub­li­cans did not have enough votes with their slim 52-seat ma­jor­ity to ad­vance the bill.

Pence, a long­time op­po­nent of abor­tion, ar­rived to cast the vote break­ing the 50-50 tie — and was ex­pected to do so later Thurs­day on fi­nal pas­sage.

“We just saw a his­toric mo­ment,” said Sen. Patty Mur­ray (D-Wash.) “It is a sad day for the United States Se­nate.”

The mea­sure rolls back a reg­u­la­tion fi­nal­ized at the end of Pres­i­dent Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion that ex­plic­itly pre­vented states from deny­ing fed­eral Ti­tle X fam­ily planning funds to clin­ics, like Planned Par­ent­hood, that also pro­vide abor­tion ser­vices.

Un­der long­stand­ing prac­tice, no fed­eral funds can be used for abor­tions, but fed­eral fam­ily planning money can flow to the clin­ics to pro­vide other health­care ser­vices.

Some Re­pub­li­can-led state gov­ern­ments had been mov­ing in re­cent years to choke off Ti­tle X funds from any clin­ics that of­fered abor­tion ser­vice. The Obama rule sought to pro­hibit such prac­tices.

The bill Thurs­day, spon­sored by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, has al­ready cleared the House.

It is part of a se­ries of bills be­ing passed by Con­gress un­der the so-called Con­gres­sional Re­view Act, which al­lows fed­eral reg­u­la­tions put in place dur­ing the fi­nal days of the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion to be un­done by sim­ple ma­jor­ity pas­sage.

Pas­sage by the Se­nate later Thurs­day would send it to the White House for Pres­i­dent Trump’s sig­na­ture.

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