After savaging Republican leaders Thursday for blocking an amendment to cut off funds to Planned Parenthood, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) got his vote — and lost it, soundly.
Paul (pictured above) took to the floor to complain that his party’s leaders were blocking his amendment to a bill to fund the departments of defense, education, labor and health and human services.
“Yet my amendment is now being blocked by Republicans. Why would Republicans block a vote on defunding Planned Parenthood?” he asked. “It may surprise some. Because so many Republicans go home and say they’re against Planned Parenthood.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appeared on the floor a short while later to offer Paul’s amendment to prevent Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from receiving federal funds. Paul cast it as a capitulation, but a spokesman for McConnell told LifeZette that there was no effort to prevent the vote.
Said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the second-ranking Republican in the upper chamber: “I am completely in support of voting on Sen. Paul’s amendment. I, frankly, am a little confused by his statement that Republicans are opposing his amendment when, at this point, I will renew the request by the senator from Kentucky.”
The vote itself fell well short of the 60 votes needed to pass. It failed to draw even a majority; 45 senators voted in favor, while 48 voted “no.”
Federal law already bans taxpayer funds from paying for abortion and requires federal money to be used for nonabortion services. But Paul argued that it is a meaningless distinction because every federal dollar for another purpose frees up a dollar for abortions.
“Planned Parenthood ends the lives of 320,000 babies each year. That’s about 900 babies every day,” he said. “Planned Parenthood receives over $400 million of taxpayer money. The government, with a wink and a nod, tells us that Planned Parenthood doesn’t spend the money on abortions. But everybody knows that the taxpayers are really cross-subsidizing Planned Parenthood’s abortion mills.”
The more than $400 million that Planned Parenthood gets comes in the form of reimbursements by Medicaid for nonabortion services. The abortion provider also gets almost $60 million a year in family planning grants. The $543.7 million is about 40 percent of Planned Parenthood’s annual budget.
Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said Paul’s amendment would hurt women’s health.
“Planned Parenthood provides health care for millions of women across the United States, and Planned Parenthood provides family planning so that these women can avoid unplanned pregnancies, which sadly in many cases lead to abortions,” he said.
Paul originally had offered his amendment in tandem with one proposed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) that would have allowed the Senate to intervene in a lawsuit challenging parts of the Affordable Care Act. Durbin said he opposed Paul’s amendment but believed that it — along with the Manchin amendment — should get a vote.
Manchin said he was trying to save Obamacare’s provisions guaranteeing that people with pre-existing health conditions cannot be denied or charged more for health insurance.
“It affects every single one of us,” he said. “It affects 1.8 million Kentuckians. It affects 800,000 West Virginians. Every state has people that have some form of pre-existing condition, and every family has someone in that.”
But Senate Republicans blocked a vote on Manchin’s amendment after determining it was not “germane” to the spending bill. What’s more, Cornyn said, Manchin’s amendment would have authorized lawyers representing the Senate to defend all provisions of Obamacare, not just the section on pre-existing conditions.
Jeanne Mancini, president of the anti-abortion March for Life, praised Paul for pushing the Planned Parenthood issue.
“Unfortunately, many senators who claim to be pro-life defied their constituents and the consensus of the American public by giving the abortion industry a pass,” she said in a statement. “Almost two-thirds of Americans say they do not want to fund abortion with their tax dollars. Disentangling American taxpayers from the abortion industry is long overdue.”
In his speech, Paul said about 6,400 of the 320,000 babies aborted this year in Planned Parenthood clinics — statistically speaking — would have grown up to be geniuses.
“Perhaps one of these potential geniuses would have discovered a cure for cancer, or Lou Gehrig’s disease,” he said.”