US Senate passes Reconciliation Bill to partially defund Planned Parenthood, but battle is not over

Washington, D.C.-  December 4, 2015The United States Senate has passed a bill that partially defunds Planned Parenthood and repeals as much of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as Senate rules allow.  Although Pro-Life Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) initially opposed the bill due to Parliamentary limitations and the bill’s interplay with the long-term strategy to fully defund Planned Parenthood and stop implementation of the ACA, conservative leadership were able to negotiate acceptable terms which ushered the legislation through a passing 52-47 vote.

The Reconciliation Bill was a fast-track budget bill that does not fully defund Planned Parenthood or divert all of the abortion giant’s funding to community health centers.  However, the measure will significantly reduce funding for the abortion behemoth by wholly excluding Planned Parenthood from Medicaid reimbursements.  These reimbursements – as Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards heavily underscored at a Congressional hearing in September, comprise the bulk of Planned Parenthood’s more than $500 million annual taxpayer funding.  This financial blow could cripple the abortion organization and ensure increased funding to the Life-affirming work of federally qualified health centers, which greatly outnumber Planned Parenthood affiliates across the country.

This victory was rendered possible by rules of reconciliation, which allow this kind of budget bill to pass with just 51 votes in the Senate.  This allowance greatly improved the chance of moving these historic first reform steps, which languished in the Senate for too long.  While the Reconciliation Bill is a small victory, President Obama has already vowed to veto any bill that defunds Planned Parenthood.  The Senate has taken the right first step in passing the Reconciliation Bill; however, the fight to ensure that all federal funding is diverted from the largest abortion business in the country is far from over.  Indeed, Planned Parenthood is still under investigation for allegations of selling the body parts of the babies brutalized within their facilities. 

The next battle that Pro-Lifers must look toward is a government budget that must pass before the December 11 deadline.  While moderate Republicans and even some in Congressional leadership are ready to walk away from defunding efforts after the President’s veto, some stalwart Pro-Life advocates in government are galvanizing their cohorts to see these efforts through to the end.  In particular, Texas Right to Life applauds Senator Ted Cruz for his uncompromising Pro-Life beliefs and tireless efforts to exhaust every opportunity to defund the abortion industry until Pro-Life taxpayers are protected and Planned Parenthood is bereft of government backing.  In a statement following the vote, Senator Cruz underscored the importance of the small-but-important victory:

“The vote we took today is a significant step towards repealing every word of Obamacare.  This bill repeals as much of that failed law as we can under arcane Senate rules and the narrow guidelines of the budget.  I am also encouraged that this bill prohibits taxpayer funds from going to abortion-providers.  This bill is a substantial improvement over the original House bill, and I’m grateful to Senate conservatives and Senate leadership for joining me in making it so.”

While the efforts of Senate leadership to address the concerns of Pro-Life Americans in the Reconciliation Bill are a first step toward important budgetary reform, much more action is needed to ensure the Reconciliation Bill vote maintains a lasting impact.   

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