- The Battle over Planned Parenthood Funding
- August 7, 2015
- Law Firm: McDonald Hopkins LLC - Cleveland Office
- While how Congress will grapple with funding for the highway bill dominated much of the week here in DC, another funding question captured a great deal more attention across the country. Senate Republicans are making a push to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood after a series of undercover videos that purport to show officials from the organization discussing the selling of fetal tissue from abortions for use in medical research.
Republicans are pushing a bill that would take the more than $500 million per year in federal dollars that are received by Planned Parenthood, and instead distribute them amongst other organizations that provide women’s health services.
The decision to reallocate the funding rather than simply eliminate it is designed to blunt attacks from Democrats eager to paint the move to defund Planned Parenthood as an effort to cut women’s healthcare options. The leading bill to defund Planned Parenthood in the House, which has 148 co-sponsors as of Wednesday, would not reallocate the funding.
The Senate vote is expected to take place Monday, three weeks after the first undercover video surfaced. Congressional investigations into the videos, ordered by House GOP leaders, have just begun.
Not all Republicans, however, support the effort. Embattled Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), the most vulnerable Senate Republican up for reelection next year, signaled Wednesday that he would oppose the legislation, citing the preventive health services that Planned Parenthood provides.
A second Republican, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), also indicated she would likely oppose the measure, citing the lack of alternative health providers in her state.
Additionally, pro-life Democrats aren’t yet lining up behind the bill either. Democratic Sens. Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), both abortion opponents, signaled their opposition to the effort.
Indeed, Collins and Manchin are floating their own compromise proposal. They are hoping to find a middle ground between taking away all of the money allocated to Planned Parenthood and ensuring that women's healthcare, from birth-control consultations to routine checkups, is still covered.
A Collins-Manchin compromise may further muddy the water for supporters of defunding Planned Parenthood, and make it even harder for Republicans to get the 60 votes they need to move forward.
In the House, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has taken a more cautious approach over a Planned Parenthood vote. While stressing that he supports defunding the group, his office said this week that he would wait for congressional investigations to conclude before pursuing legislative action.
Supporters of Planned Parenthood stress that the group is banned under the Hyde Amendment from using federal funding for abortions, except in limited cases, and note the organization’s larger role in the healthcare system.
Even if all Republicans supported the bill, Democrats are nearly certain to filibuster it.
Watch the latest Washington Business Brief video, Congress Wraps Up a Busy July.