- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 30, 2017

With Vice President Mike Pence voting to break a tie, the Senate took the first step Thursday to strip some federal funds from Planned Parenthood.

Senators voted to begin debating a bill that would overturn an Obama-era rule that said a health organization’s other activities — such as providing abortions — couldn’t be used to withhold federal family planning grant money.

A final vote is expected later Thursday afternoon.

Federal money already severely restricted from paying for abortions themselves, but Planned Parenthood and other providers can still get money for non-abortion services.

A number of states tried to punish Planned Parenthood by withholding Medicaid money, saying the organization hasn’t answered questions about a series of videos that purported to show affiliates of the country’s largest abortion network negotiating the sale of body parts harvested from abortions.

The Obama administration moved to block the states, issuing its rule last year preventing abortion providers from being singled out.

Republicans, flexing their majority in Congress and their control of the White House, are attempting to undo the rules-change.

Senators Thursday were deadlocked, 50-50, with two Republicans — Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine — joining Democrats to protect Planned Parenthood funding.

That left Mr. Pence to break the tie.

Democrats vowed political retribution.

“This is wrong, it is dangerous, and we cannot let this stand,” said Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat.

The bill already passed the House.

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