Planned Parenthood hangs in the balance in Senate health-care debates

The bill that the House approved strips Planned Parenthood of the $555 million it receives annually in federal funding.
By Rick Docksai | Jun 13, 2017
Sen. Mitch McConnell seeks the support of every GOP senator for the health-care repeal bill, including moderates Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and this means that he might have to drop the bill's defunding of Planned Parenthood. Funding for the reproductive-choice organization is one of several issues that continues to divide the Republican caucus and makes forming a united front on Obamacare repeal an ongoing challenge.

The bill that the House approved strips Planned Parenthood of the $555 million it receives annually in federal funding. And the Senate GOP's overwhelmingly anti-abortion membership is planning to make defunding Planned Parenthood a part of their health-care bill, as well.

But Sen. Collins strongly opposes defunding and has said that it is one of several reasons she is inclined to not vote for the bill. Sen. Murkowski has not said that she would vote against the bill, but she told Politico that "I don't think that it (defunding Planned Parenthood) should even be part of the discussion about health care."

Since the Senate GOP majority is only 52, the GOP caucus cannot afford more than two defections for the bill to pass. This gives Collins and Murkowski more bargaining power on the issue than they might otherwise have.

Moreover, some of the Senate GOP's anti-abortion members could give way on Planned Parenthood. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), who opposes abortion and has consistently called for no federal funds to Planned Parenthood, indicated that he would vote for an Obamacare-repeal bill that doesn't include any language on Planned Parenthood-defunding.

"Certainly, if it has that in there, it would be something I'd be supportive of. Whether I condition my vote on it is not something I'm prepared to say," he told Politico.

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