The Republican House passed defunding Planned Parenthood and ObamaCare on Thursday, which were stand-alone votes attached to the Continuing Resolution (CR). The Democrat Senate then killed both bills.
The final Continuing Resolution (CR), which funds the government through Sept. 30, was sent to President Obama to sign without the two conservative provisions. Obama threatened to veto the CR—thereby shutting down the government—if the final legislation included defunding his health care law.
“If the President is presented with legislation that would eliminate funding or repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto it,” the White House said in a statement on Wednesday.
As part of the budget deal made late last Friday night by Speaker of the House John Boehner (R.-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.), and President Obama, the Democrat Senate was required to debate and hold a vote on the two measures that block any federal funds from being used this year for Planned Parenthood or ObamaCare.
Although Boehner and fellow Republicans did not expect the two bills to get the 60-vote threshold for passage in the Democrat-controlled Senate, their goal was to get a roll call vote to show each Senator’s position on the issues.
While Obama agreed to including the mandatory votes in the final budget deal, he strongly opposed both measures.
“The administration strongly opposes any attempts to include language in the underlying bill that would deny funding for critical women’s health services or prohibit funding to implement the Affordable Care Act that is making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans,” the White House said in a statement released on Tuesday.
The CR funds the government for the remaining six months of the fiscal year and cuts spending by $39.9 billion. The CR (HR 1473) passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 260 to 167, with 81 Democrats voting for it, while 59 Republicans voted against the Boehner/Obama/Reid deal.
The Senate then passed the CR by a vote of 81 to 19. President Obama is expected to sign the bill by midnight Thursday to prevent a government shutdown.
The Planned Parenthood bill (H.Con.Res 36) prohibits any federal funds in the CR from being used for any purpose by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., or any of its affiliates.
The bill passed the House by a vote of 241 to 185, with 10 Democrats voting for defunding. The seven pro-choice House Republicans who voted against the bill were Charlie Bass (N.H.), Judy Biggert (Ill.), Mary Bono Mack (Calif.), Charlie Dent (Penn.), Robert Dold (Ill.), Rodney Frelinghuysen (N.J.), and Richard Hanna (N.Y.).
The Planned Parenthood defunding failed to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate by a vote of 42 to 58.
The five pro-choice Republicans Senators who voted to keep federal fund going to Planned Parenthood were Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Olympia Snowe (Maine).
“I believe ending an innocent, unborn human life is morally wrong. I also believe it’s morally wrong to take the taxpayer dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use it to subsidize the largest abortion provider in America,” Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) said during debate.
Planned Parenthood performed more than 332,278 abortions in 2009, which is double the number it performed in 1998, according to National Right to Life’s Dr. David O’Steen. Also, O’Steen said, Planned Parenthood doubled the amount of revenue it received from government grants and contracts during that same period, from $165 million in 1998 to $363.3 million in 2009.
“Not a dime of women’s health or family planning funding is reduced by this resolution. We simply won’t ensure that federal funds are being in used in a way to protect the will of our constituents not to help subsidize Planned Parenthood,” said Rep. Robert Aderholt (R.-Ala.)
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R.-Va.) was asked on Tuesday whether the Republican House would try to defund Planned Parenthood in next year’s budget, which has to pass the House and Senate.
“We believe very strongly that government dollars shouldn’t be used to fund abortion. I believe that is where the majority of the American people are,” said Cantor. “We will make sure that we continue in the spirit of the Hyde Amendment government-wide.”
Also, the House passed defunding President Obama’s health care law (H.Con.Res 35), with all the Republicans voting for it, and all but three Democrats voting against it. The final vote to was 240 to 185. The bill was blocked by the Democrat Senate by a straight party line vote of 47 to 53.
“We’re sitting right now on top of $23.6 billion that is being used intensively to implement ObamaCare. All the while, while we expect, and the President surely must expect, the Supreme Court will rule it unconstitutional. ObamaCare has been rejected by the American people. It sent 87 Republican freshmen here to Congress to repeal it. Every Republican in the House and in the Senate voted to repeal ObamaCare,” said Rep. Steve King (R.-Iowa) during floor debate.
The House already passed the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act in January, which goes further than defunding for one fiscal year. Reid, however, said that he would never allow the House’s repeal bill to have a vote in the Senate.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) spent two weeks demanding that the Senate vote on the House-passed repeal. Finally, on the day after a Florida court ruled the health care law unconstitutional, McConnell forced Reid to hold the vote. The vote failed by a vote of 47 to 51, but left many Senate Democrats who are up for reelection in 2012 in vulnerable positions defending the unpopular health care law.
In addition to the Senate vote, the budget deal for the CR requires numerous studies to illuminate the true cost and impact of the President’s health care law on Americans. The studies include determining the increased cost of health care premiums as a result of ObamaCare mandates and a full audit of all the waivers that the Obama administration has given to corporations, organizations, and unions.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R.-Wis.) assumed the full repeal of ObamaCare in his budget for Fiscal Year 2012. Eliminating the President’s health care law, Ryan predicts, would save $1.4 trillion over 10 years and prevent approximately $800 billion in tax increases. The Ryan budget will be voted on in the House on Friday.