From The New York Times:
In a signal that Senate Republicans will not be automatically aligning with their brethren in the House over the course of a vast and raucous spending debate, Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts said on Tuesday that he did not support eliminating federal financing of Planned Parenthood, a move approved by the House last month as part of a larger spending bill.
Original DVD cover
(I had to include Michele Batshit Bachmann, because she looks so natural in that pose.)
While that bill failed in the Senate earlier this month, all but three Republicans voted for it, and therefore also for the amendment that removed all federal funds from Planned Parenthood, which provides gynecological health care, family planning and abortions for women. (The three Republicans who voted against the bill, Senators Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Jim DeMint of South Carolina, said they thought that the underlying spending bill did not have adequate spending cuts; all of them, however, support cutting off money to Planned Parenthood.)
Shortly after the vote on the House spending plan, Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, said in a brief interview that she chose to vote in favor even though she disagreed with its cuts to various programs, including Head Start, a heating assistance program and Planned Parenthood. Ms. Murkowski reiterated those views in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
A form of the amendment to defund Planned Parenthood, which was offered by Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, could be resurrected on the House floor later this year as a stand-alone measure.
Under the Pence amendment, Planned Parenthood would be stripped of all forms of federal financing. Under the new stand-alone bill, Planned Parenthood and all other abortion providers would lose their money from Title X, a federal grant program dedicated to providing family planning and related preventive health services for low-income Americans. The bill would also prevent Title X dollars from going to any organization that provides money to an organization the provides abortions.
Even without the stand-alone bill, the matter is likely to remain in the spotlight, since some House Republicans feel eliminating Planned Parenthood’s funding is key to approving any spending measure.
Update: In response to an e-mail inquiry, Senator Olympia J. Snowe said Tuesday, “As a champion of women’s health, I have supported access to family planning and women’s health services throughout my career. While confronting our serious economic challenges and fiscal realities will require difficult decisions to reach more sustainable levels of government spending, the outright elimination of funding for Planned Parenthood and Title X is a step too far and would have a significant impact on access to the preventive services and screenings that have benefited millions of women nationwide.”
From TALKING POINTS MEMO:
Late Update: Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America and Andrea Miller, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts issued a joint statement calling Brown’s comments a “positive first step,” but added that “this is about more than one issue. We also call on Sen. Brown to stand up for the Commonwealth’s women and oppose other far-reaching and intrusive anti-choice policies as they move from the House to the Senate.”
And Matt Canter, Communications Director of the DSCC [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] sent TPM the following statement:
If Scott Brown felt this way, he should have shown some backbone and opposed these cuts in the first place. Instead he did what he always does and stood in lock step with the Republican establishment in Washington DC, voting to cut funding for 800 women’s health care clinics across the country, including more than a half dozen in Massachusetts. Scott Brown is not who he says he is. He votes with Mitch McConnell 98 percent of the time, and Massachusetts voters deserve better.