October 26, 2015 — The House on Friday voted 240-189 to approve legislation (HR 3762) that would use the budget reconciliation process to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal several of the Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) provisions, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (Fram, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 10/23).
The bill now heads to the Senate. The Obama administration said President Obama would veto the reconciliation measure if it passes through Congress (Attias, CQ News, 10/23). According to the AP/Chronicle, conservative congressional lawmakers lack the votes needed to override a veto (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 10/23).
The move to defund Planned Parenthood comes after the antiabortion-rights group Center for Medical Progress earlier this year released a series of misleading videos targeting the organization's fetal tissue donation program.
Planned Parenthood has stated that the videos were heavily edited and that the filmed officials did not conduct any illegal activities. The organization said it does not profit from fetal tissue donations and only receives reimbursement for costs associated with such donations, which is legal. Planned Parenthood last month submitted a report to Congress that found that the videos were manipulated, making them unreliable for official inquiries into the organization.
Through budget reconciliation, certain legislation can advance in the Senate with a simple majority vote.
The part of the reconciliation measure that targets Planned Parenthood would end federal funding for the organization for one year. According to the Congressional Budget Office, that amounts to about $390 million in Medicaid funds. Meanwhile, the measure would add $235 million in funding for community health centers (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/22).
Bill Could Face Conservative Opposition in the Senate
Conservative Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Thursday said they would oppose the measure because it repeals only certain provisions of the ACA, The Hill reports. The lawmakers said they had pledged in their campaigns "to fully repeal" the ACA, and that the current bill did not go far enough.
According to The Hill, the bill will not pass through the Senate if just five Republicans vote against the measure (Sullivan, The Hill, 10/22).
Lawmakers Appointed to Special Committee Investigating Planned Parenthood
In related news, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Friday announced the eight Republican members of the special committee tasked with investigating Planned Parenthood, including Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who will chair the committee, The Hill reports.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is responsible for naming the five Democratic lawmakers who will be the five remaining members of the committee, but they have not yet been announced (Marcos, The Hill, 10/23).
The subcommittee will be allowed to probe, among other topics, federal funding for health care providers who also provide abortion services and providers' practices for abortions later in pregnancy. The resolution (H Res 461) that created the subcommittee gave the subcommittee the ability to investigate "medical procedures and business practices used by entities involved in fetal tissue procurement" and "any other relevant matters with respect to fetal tissue procurement."
According to Blackburn, the subcommittee will have subpoena powers that it will use in consultation with the new House Speaker, who also will oversee the panel's budget and schedule.
The panel will be dissolved 30 days after it submits a report based on the investigation's findings. The subcommittee could recommend changes to laws and regulations based on its findings (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/8).
The subcommittee is the fourth House committee tasked with investigating the organization in the wake of CMP's misleading video series.
Planned Parenthood Responds
Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications at Planned Parenthood, on Friday lambasted the committee. "Planned Parenthood has been cooperating fully with all of these investigations, even though they were all sparked by false and discredited claims and even though their political motive has become increasingly clear," he said (The Hill, 10/23).
He added, "Given the clear political focus of all of these investigations, it's no surprise that we're already seeing what appear to be improper leaks and overtly political committee appointments" (Kane, "Power Post," Washington Post, 10/23).