Pence casts tie-breaking vote; bill will give states power to withhold funding from Planned Parenthood

Vice President Mike Pence stepped in as President of the Senate to break a tie vote and do away with an Obama-era regulation that funded abortion providers.

For the second time as vice president, Pence had to cast a tie-breaking vote Thursday following a stalled 50-50 vote on former President Obama’s rule which prohibited states from defunding healthcare providers that perform abortions, the Hill reported.

Pence cast the 51st vote to undo the regulation after two Republicans, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Maine Sen. Susan Collins sided with Democrats to keep the rule.

Ahead of the final vote Thursday, Democrats had been slamming the GOP for considering repealing the Obama-era rule.

“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,” Washington Democrat Sen. Patty Murray said.  “As a direct result of their choices today, extreme politicians in states across the country will have greater power to take away women’s choices.”

The original rule required that Title X funding covering services related to contraception, fertility, and pregnancy would be distributed by local governments to health care providers regardless of whether they also perform abortions.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warned Republicans against repealing the rule, thereby limiting women’s access to care in some areas.

“I would urge my Republican friends, particularly those in rural states where this could really hurt, please think about it,” the New York Democrat said. “We only need one more vote to stop this bill, which would allow states to dramatically reduce access for women to essential health care services.”

But Republicans saw the regulation as another example of Obama’s overreach and argued its removal would give states more flexibility.

“It substituted Washington’s judgment for the needs of real people,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said before the vote, according to The Hill. “This regulation is an unnecessary restriction on states that know their residents a lot better than the federal government.”

With Pence’s vote, it is now up to President Trump to sign the legislation.

This marked the second time the vice president has been called on to break a tie in the Senate. Last month he cast the historic deciding vote confirming Betsy DeVos as Secretary of the Department of Education. That was the first time a vice president had been called on to break a Senate tie since 2008 when then-Vice President Dick Cheney voted on tax legislation.

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Frieda Powers

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