Congress Reverses Obama Rule on Planned Parenthood

The procedural vote stalled out at 50-50, and Pence cast the 51st vote in its favor, according to The Hill. 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.

While federal funding of abortion is blocked by the Hyde Amendment - except in cases of rape or incest, or to save the life of the woman - critics of Planned Parenthood argue that the nation's largest abortion provider's receipt of federal funds for non-abortion services amounts to little more than a shell game.

Some Republican-led state governments had been moving in recent years to choke off Title X funds from any clinics that offered abortion service.

Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the USA, has been a target for conservatives across the country who have tried to cut off taxpayer funding - including the failed GOP health care legislation. This new bill that was just passed overrides the protection President Obama set in place to stop states from cutting funds from family planning centers for political reasons.

Earlier in the day, Collins and Murkowski voted with Democrats against starting debate on repealing the regulation, forcing Pence to cast a tie-breaking vote for the Senate to start debate. "It would let states treat women as second-class citizens who don't deserve the same access to health care as men".

This isn't the first time Pence has had to break a tie in the Senate.

Their main concern is that federal money is being used to provide abortions, although the grants are specifically barred from funding those procedures.

"[First], it's very important that we undo President Obama's last-minute regulation - his parting gift to Planned Parenthood", she says, "[because] regardless of how pro-life they may be and regardless of the will of the people who wanted to prioritize taxpayer funding, it forced states to fund Planned Parenthood".

Planned Parenthood decried the move.

The rule was enacted in the final full month of the Obama administration, giving lawmakers the opening to nullify it under the Congressional Review Act.

"I want Senate Republicans who are about to take this vote, and Vice President Pence, to be very clear on what they are about to do", said Sen.

The bill will soon be sent to President Trump's desk, where he is all but guaranteed to sign it. Clinics can only use Title X grants for non-abortion health services. 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.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said the measure reverses a rule that "attempted to empower federal bureaucrats in Washington and silence our states".

Meanwhile, Maryland's General Assembly has passed a bill to reimburse Planned Parenthood for Medicaid services in case federal dollars are cut off, CBS Baltimore reports. In 2011, IN slashed funding for Planned Parenthood, shutting down many rural clinics.