WASHINGTON (January 6, 2015) — For the first time, the Republican Congress has cleared a bill that would block most federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood, and repeal many parts of Obamacare, including the program that provides tax-based subsidies for about 1,000 health plans that cover elective abortions.
The formal title of the bill is “the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act” (H.R. 3762) — or “the budget reconciliation bill” for short.
The House of Representatives approved the bill today on a nearly party-line roll call, 240-181. Only one Democrat (Collin Peterson of Minnesota) voted for the bill. Only three Republicans (John Katko and Richard Hanna of New York, and Bob Dold of Illinois) voted against it.
The bill will quickly be sent to President Obama, who has vowed that he will veto it. The House of Representatives will then vote on whether to override the veto, which would require a two-thirds vote in each house of Congress. The House is likely to vote on the override on or about January 26.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is not specifically designated in any law to receive federal funds, but PPFA affiliates tap into various federal programs, primarily Medicaid, to an aggregate amount of roughly $450 million a year. The House has repeatedly passed bills to block PPFA from receiving federal funds, but in the Senate such measures have fallen well short of the 60-vote supermajority needed to overcome filibusters by Democratic senators.
Last fall, Republican leaders in the House and Senate, in cooperation with National Right to Life and some other pro-life groups, came up with a new strategy — incorporating language to block most federal funds from Planned Parenthood in a “budget reconciliation” bill.
A budget reconciliation bill can be passed, at most, once a year, and complicated rules limit the types of provisions that a reconciliation bill can carry. But a budget reconciliation bill has the great advantage of being immune from filibuster in the Senate.
On October 23, 2015, the House passed a reconciliation bill containing a provision that NRLC estimated would block about 89% of the federal funds that currently reach Planned Parenthood affiliates (the remainder being beyond the reach of provisions permitted in a reconciliation bill). Those funds would be redirected to community health centers. The bill also contained provisions to repeal some provisions of Obamacare.
In the Senate, attempts to remove the Planned Parenthood provision were narrowly rejected. The Senate also added new provisions to repeal additional provisions of Obamacare, including the program that provides tax-based subsidies to about 1,000 health plans that cover elective abortions. This amended bill then narrowly passed on December 3, 2015, 52-47, with support from all but two Republicans but no Democrats. (See “Pro-life forces score major win in U.S. Senate,” December NRL News.)
In neither house was the bill approved by a margin that approached the two-thirds level that would be required to override the anticipated veto. Nevertheless, having the bill clear Congress constitutes a pro-life landmark victory, with respect to both Obamacare and Planned Parenthood.
“When a Republican president takes over next year, we can use reconciliation again,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) during today’s debate.
“National Right to Life supporters across the nation should take great satisfaction in today’s approval of this landmark legislation, which builds a bridge to future victories against Obamacare and Planned Parenthood,” said NRLC President Carol Tobias. “We have overcome the pro-abortion filibuster. Now we require only a pro-life president.”