Republican Senate Votes to Fund Planned Parenthood and Aborted-Baby-Parts Research

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) at the University of Louisville, Feb. 12, 2018. (Screen Capture)

(CNSNews.com) – The Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday voted to pass an appropriations bill funding the Department of Health and Human Services that—if adopted by the House and signed by President Trump–will not only permit the continued federal funding of Planned Parenthood but will also allow the continued federal funding of scientific research that creates “humanized mice” using organs taken from aborted babies.

After some maneuvering on Thursday afternoon, the leadership allowed a floor vote on an amendment offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R.-Ky.) that would have prohibited all federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

That amendment was only brought up for a vote after Paul gave a blistering floor speech warning that the Republican leadership might not allow a vote on it at all.

It was brought up under a procedure that required it to get 60 votes.

It failed on a 45 to 48 vote.

By contrast, there was no vote at all in the Senate on whether to prohibit federal funding of research that uses fetal tissue taken from babies killed in an induced abortion.

On July 11, the House Appropriations Committee approved a fiscal 2019 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill that did include language that would prohibit all federal funding of Planned Parenthood, including both Title X funding and Medicaid funding. The same House bill also included language that prohibited federal funding of research “using human fetal tissue if such tissue is obtained pursuant to an induced abortion.”

According to its latest annual report, Planned Parenthood performed 321,384 abortions in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, 2016. During the twelve-month period that ended on June 30, 2017, Planned Parenthood reported, it received $543.7 million in government health services reimbursements and grants.

In a report published in 2017, the Congressional Research Service said that in 2012 Planned Parenthood received $464.91 million in funding from the federal government. This included $400.56 from Medicaid and $64.35 million in Title X grants.

The National Institutes of Health estimates that it will spend $103 million on human fetal tissue research in this fiscal year; and, as CNSNews.com reported earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration, signed a $15,900 contract in July to continue its acquisition of human fetal tissue to use in creating “humanized mice” with human immune systems.

NIH grants and intramural research money are also used to create these “humanized mice.” As CNSNews.com has reported, for example, federal researchers at NIH laboratories in Montana used bone marrow, livers, thymuses taken from babies aborted at 17 to 22 gestational weeks to create what it called “BLT” humanized mice.

When the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of the Labor-HHS-Education funding bill on June 28, it did not include the lanuguage that the House committee would include in its version of the bill that defunded Planned Parenthood and research using tissue taken from aborted babies.

That same day, the Senate Appropriations Committee also approved its version of Department of Defense funding bill. It then issued a press release boasting that it had approved all twelve regular appropriations bills with broad “bipartisan” support.

The bill that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) brought to the Senate floor Thursday—H.R. 6157—combined the Labor-HHS-Education funding bill with the Department of Defense funding bill.

Thus, for a senator to vote against the Planned Parenthood and fetal-tissue-research funding permitted in the Labor-HHS-Education bill, he or she would also have needed to vote against the Defense Department funding bill.

On Thursday afternoon before it was agreed to allow a vote on Sen. Paul’s amendment to defund Planned Parenthood, Paul took to the floor and slammed the Republican leadership for its handling of the issue.

“Why would Republicans block a vote on defunding Planned Parenthood?” Paul asked rhetorically. “It may surprise some because so many Republicans go home and say they are against Planned Parenthood, but this vote could happen right now—right now, today—if Republicans don’t object.”

“Surely, the Republican leadership doesn’t favor abortion funding, so the answer is a curious one,” said Paul. “The truth is that the Republican leadership favors bloated government spending more than it cares about Planned Parenthood. This appropriations bill before us exceeds the spending caps by nearly $100 billion. Big spending Republicans fear that blocking funding for Planned Parenthood would derail their plans to greatly expand the welfare-warfare state.

“So be it,” said Paul. “The public has long known that the Democrats are the abortion party. Now the public will know that many Republicans just give lip service to pro-life issues and are really more concerned with bloated government spending than with saving lives.”

About an hour later, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared on the Senate floor and called for a vote on Paul’s amendment to defund Planned Parenthood.

“I ask unanimous consent that the following amendment be called up: Paul No. 3967,” McConnell said. “I further ask that at 4:10 p.m., the Senate vote in relation to the amendment; that there be no second degree amendments in order to the amendment prior to the vote; and that it be subject to a 60-vote affirmative threshold for adoption.”

They then held the roll call, which resulted in the 45-to-48 vote. No Democrat voted for the amendment. Two Republicans voted against it: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R.-Alaska).

The combined Labor-HHS-Education and Defense Department funding bill passed the Senate an hour later on an 85-7 vote.

Senate Approprations Chairman Richard Shelby (R.-Ala.) then put out a statement congratulating McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) for working together to pass a “bipartisan” bill.

“I want to thank both of them for their leadership,” said Shelby.

Why did the Senate Appropriations Committee not include in its HHS bill the passages from the House bill that defunded Planned Parenthood and fetal-tissue research? A Senate aide told CNSNews.com: “The chairman has been successful in passing appropriations bills because he and the vice chairman [Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont] have honored their agreement not to include provisions in these bills that either side considers poison pills. Appropriations bills have included partisan riders in recent years, and they have gone nowhere as a result.  That’s how we’ve ended up with the same massive omnibus spending bills that everyone dislikes.”

The omnibus spending law now funding the government expires on Sept. 30, the last day of fiscal 2018. By then, the Republican-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate must agree on a final appropriations bill that funds the Department of Health and Human Services for the period starting on Oct. 1.

If that bill follows what the House has done, it will defund both Planned Parenthood and research that makes “humanized mice” using tissue taken from aborted babies.

If it follows the Senate, it will fund those things.

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