GOP backs down in fight to keep Zika funding away from abortion industry
WASHINGTON, D.C., September 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Bowing to Democratic pressure and the looming prospect of a government shutdown, Congressional Republicans removed a pro-life provision from a bill that would have prevented Planned Parenthood from receiving funds meant to combat the Zika virus.
“Planned Parenthood squeaked out another win by continuing their eligibility to obtain hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, the nation's largest youth pro-life organization. “What other organization is taxpayer-funded yet drops millions of dollars electing politicians to do their will, which is oftentimes against the will of the people? That Planned Parenthood continues to be eligible for half a billion dollars each year and spend millions on their favored politicians is nothing less than a vicious cycle of corruption.”
On Wednesday, the Senate passed a $1.1 trillion continuing resolution (CR) that funds the government through December 9, 72-26.
Its $1.1 billion in anti-Zika funding had become a political football, as House Republicans designated $95 million “for health services provided by public health departments, hospitals, or reimbursed through public health plans.”
That language would exclude Planned Parenthood’s Puerto Rican affiliate, Profamilias, while including any Planned Parenthood affiliate that is a Medicaid provider.
But Senate Democrats filibustered the bill, and President Obama threatened to veto the House version unless it opened up a revenue stream for Planned Parenthood. According to the CDC, there are 19,777 in the U.S. territories, the vast majority in Puerto Rico.
The final bill of H.R. 5235, passed last night, includes $75 million to combat Zika, of which $60 million is available for Profamilias, as well as health care providers on the island.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, stripped out language to deprive Planned Parenthood of taxpayer dollars, as well as a motion from Sen. Ted Cruz preventing President Obama from relinquishing official control of the internet to the United Nations on October 1. However, he allowed a provision to prevent the Security and Exchange Commission from requiring corporations to report their political contributions.
The deal “includes a provision that will give Planned Parenthood a raise, but contains nothing to delay President Obama’s reckless plan to give countries like China, Russia, and Iran more control over the internet,” said pro-life Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT. It “has plenty of so-called ‘policy riders,’ but only those that received the blessing of the select few who wrote the legislation.”
Last night, the House approved the bill 342-85, with 75 Republicans – including Marsha Blackburn, David Brat, Louis Gohmert, Steve King, Dana Rohrabacher, and Mark Sanford – voting nay. (See the full list here.)
Senate Democrats declared victory. “Women’s health should never be treated like a political football,” said Sen. Patty Murray, a Washington state Democrat and an outspoken supporter of abortion-on-demand, “so I am glad that Republicans finally agreed to set aside the extreme provisions that would have specifically blocked Planned Parenthood health care providers from accessing critical funding.”
But conservatives see this as a double loss, both funding Planned Parenthood and requiring a costlier funding bill to be passed after the election in the lame duck session of Congress.
Hill conservatives Heritage Action’s Dan Holler said the deal proves that “House Republicans accept being jammed and essentially sit on the side lines,” content to “negotiate behind closed doors with Democrats, essentially giving them what they want.” FreedomWorks said after Wednesday night’s vote, “We will stand with lawmakers who fight to ensure a lame-duck appropriations bill doesn’t again become a ‘Trojan horse’ for some of President Obama and Harry Reid’s top priorities.”