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Senate Passes Bill Targeting Planned Parenthood Via Reconciliation Process

Senate Passes Bill Targeting Planned Parenthood Via Reconciliation Process

December 4, 2015 — The Senate on Thursday voted 52-47 to pass a budget reconciliation bill (HR 3762) that would defund Planned Parenthood and repeal several of the Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) provisions, the New York Times reports (Herszenhorn, New York Times, 12/3).

The House, which approved a different version of the bill in October, is expected to pass the Senate version next week (Attias, CQ News, 12/4). President Obama has pledged to veto the bill if it passes through Congress.

Background

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 funding. Meanwhile, the measure would add $235 million in funding for community health centers (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/3).

Senate Rejects Planned Parenthood Amendments

The Senate on Thursday also voted on several amendments to the measure, passing some that target the ACA and rejecting others that would have removed the language defunding Planned Parenthood.

In a 48-52 vote, the chamber rejected one Planned Parenthood amendment that was proposed by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

The Senate also rejected another Planned Parenthood amendment proposed by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) (CQ News, 12/4). Murray's amendment would have replaced the Planned Parenthood provision with language establishing a fund to bolster security for abortion clinics. The fund would have received about $1 billion via a surtax on high-income families from fiscal year 2016 to 2025. The funding would have been allocated to clinics and providers who offer abortion care to bolster safety and provide health care services. The amendment also would have required that Congress receive a report each year that outlines best practices and tracks violence against clinics and providers who offer women's health care services (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/3).

In addition, the chamber tabled an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) (S.A. 2886 text, 12/3). The amendment would have barred individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanors under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act from being able to own a firearm. The Freedom of Access Act, passed in 1994, aims to protect clinics from violence and harassment. The amendment comes in response to last week's shooting at the Colorado clinic (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/3).

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, criticized the bill's passage. "It seems implausible that less than a week after a tragic shooting at the Planned Parenthood health center in Colorado Springs some in Washington chose politics over compassion," she said (Kelly, USA Today, 12/4).