Senate Republicans on Thursday led a successful vote to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding in a legislative package aimed at repealing significant parts of the Affordable Care Act.
The repeal passed 52-47 as part of budget reconciliation package, which required only 51 votes for approval. President Obama is expected to veto the package.
The vote comes after the U.S. House passed two anti-choice bills in September—one to gut Planned Parenthood’s federal funding for one year unless the reproductive health-care provider stops performing abortions, and another that pro-choice advocates say would have a chilling effect on providers.
Action on the controversial package dragged into Thursday evening, as senators worked their way through more than a dozen proposed amendments, including one co-authored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to retain federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Collins said on the floor before the vote that gutting the organization’s funding would force “millions of women across the country to have to find new health-care providers.” The amendment was narrowly rejected, with 52 senators voting in opposition.
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Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) also offered an amendment to strike the defunding provision and include language to create a security and safety fund for reproductive health-care clinics. A shooting rampage on Friday at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood has prompted calls for reform as women’s health clinics are increasingly subject to anti-choice violence.
The chamber voted to table the amendment on a 54-46 vote.
In a tweet after the vote, Murray said, “My Republican colleagues have just pushed [women’s health care] aside.”
Planned Parenthood received $528 million in federal money last year, according to Planned Parenthood’s latest annual report. The Senate bill would gut for one year the organization’s federal funding, which supports preventive health-care services, including HIV testing, cancer screenings, and birth control.
Republicans have been on a mission to strip Planned Parenthood of funding following the release this summer of misleading videos that purported to show the health-care provider trafficking in “baby parts.” The heavily edited and widely discredited videos were produced by a group called the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-choice front group that has worked with Republican lawmakers to smear Planned Parenthood.
Investigations in at least eight states have found no evidence of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood, as Rewire has reported.
Public polls indicate strong support of the health-care provider, with 60 percent of respondents saying that any budget deal must maintain Planned Parenthood funding, according to a September Pew Research Center poll.
Thursday’s vote marked the latest volley in Republican’s quixotic campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The House has voted 56 times to repeal all or part of the administration’s signature domestic reform, as the Hill reported, but those Republican-led efforts have died in the Senate, until now.
With the elections looming, Republicans said they are eager to notch what amounts to a symbolic victory.
“We made a promise to [voters] that if they gave us the majority last November we would have this vote and we would place this squarely in front of the president,” Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn of Texas said before Thursday’s vote.
The Senate bill would repeal taxes on medical devices and funding for subsidies that help consumers buy insurance, among other provisions.