MARY CLARE JALONICK
WASHINGTON (AP) -
Senate Republicans on Thursday needed Vice President Mike Pence to break a
tie on legislation to reverse an Obama administration rule protecting funds
for Planned Parenthood and other family planning providers.
The GOP was forced
to keep a procedural vote open for just over an hour after two Republicans
senators, Alaska's Lisa Murkowski and Maine's Susan Collins, voted against
moving ahead on the measure. During that time, the GOP got Pence to the
Senate to break a 50-50 tie and cast the deciding vote.
He previously broke
a tie on the nomination of Betsy DeVos to be education secretary.
A final vote on the
bill is expected later Thursday, when Pence's vote likely will be needed
administration finalized the rule just a few weeks before President Donald
Trump was inaugurated. It would bar states from denying federal family
planning funds to organizations like Planned Parenthood that also perform
The rule said that
a state cannot deny funding to clinics for reasons unrelated to their
ability to provide basic family planning services. Although abortion is a
legal medical procedure, federal dollars cannot be used to pay for it,
except in restricted circumstances.
Congress is now trying to reverse the rule using the Congressional Review
Act, which lets lawmakers undo regulations enacted in the last months of the
Obama administration with a majority vote. The House passed its version of
the measure in February.
Under Senate rules,
the vice president can cast tie breaking votes. Pence broke his first tie on
the nomination of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, when the same two
Republican senators, Collins and Murkowski, voted against her. There are 52
Republicans in the Senate.
After the vote,
Washington Sen. Patty Murray said Republicans "didn't listen to women across
the country who made it clear that restricting women's access to the full
range of reproductive care is unacceptable."
Murray is the top
Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
President Joe Biden, who served under President Barack Obama for eight
years, never cast a tie-breaking vote.