Pence casts tie-breaking vote to roll back Obama abortion rule
Senate Republicans called in Vice President Mike Pence Thursday after deadlocking 50-50 over funding for abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.
Pence, a longtime opponent of abortion rights, voted with the 50 other Republicans to proceed to a vote to roll back an Obama administration rule that barred states from cutting off federal family-planning money to abortion providers. And if the Senate splits again along partisan lines in the vote, Pence will have to break the tie again. The House of Representatives already voted to overturn the regulation 230-188 in February, and President Donald Trump is expect to sign it if it passes the Senate.
The Obama administration issued the rule this past December and it went into effect two days before Trump’s inauguration. Trump and the Republican Congress have set about excising several of President Obama’s last-minute regulations through an unprecedented use of the Congressional Review Act. The law, which allows Congress to roll back regulations less than a year old, had previously been used only once in 21 years. Trump and the Republican Congress have so far used it seven times, and this abortion rule would be the eighth.
This rule came in response to the move by about a dozen states in recent years to attempt to block any public money from going to abortion providers, including Title X federal family-planning money. The federal government is not legally allowed to pay for abortions, but places like Planned Parenthood receive taxpayer money for the array of other medical services they provide.
If the Trump administration succeeds in overturning the rule, then Republican state legislatures will likely target other money that goes to abortion providers, which could lead to closures. Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the U.S., has been a target for conservatives across the country who have tried to cut off taxpayer funding – including the failed GOP health care legislation.