Defunding Planned Parenthood Will Be in ACA Repeal, Ryan Says

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By Alex Ruoff and Jonathan Nicholson

Cutting federal funding for Planned Parenthood will be among the provisions in a bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Jan. 5.

“The Planned Parenthood legislation would be in our reconciliation bill,” Ryan told reporters at a weekly meeting on how and when Republicans would move to defund the family-planning organization.

The head of Planned Parenthood told reporters Jan. 5 she doesn’t expect the change to pass the Senate, where moderate Republicans have resisted attempts to defund the organization. However, the group and other liberal political organizations are planning rallies in two dozen cities to oppose Republicans’ effort to cut federal funds for Planned Parenthood and to repeal the ACA.

A prohibition on funding for charitable groups that provide family-planning services, including abortions, was contained in a budget reconciliation bill (H.R. 3762) that was passed by the 114th Congress. That bill was vetoed by President Barack Obama.

Bloomberg Philanthropies provides financial support for Planned Parenthood.

Moderates Could Block

The issue could be a difficult one to resolve between moderate Republicans in the Senate and more conservative Republicans in the House.

One Senate GOP moderate, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), voted against the budget reconciliation bill in 2015. However, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), head of the House Freedom Caucus, told reporters Jan. 5 conservatives are demanding a cut of federal funds to the group for at least one year as part of repeal.

Collins told reporters Jan. 5 she doesn’t want a provision defunding Planning Parenthood to be part of Republicans’ ACA repeal plan. She and other moderates want to separate the issues, she said.

However, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters Republicans can afford to lose a few votes and still pass their ACA repeal through budget reconciliation, a process that allows them to pass legislation by a simple majority in both chambers of Congress.

“We got 52 votes last time,” Cornyn said. “And while we’d like to have all 52 [Republican] senators, if we have the vice president in the chair, that gives us a little bit of flexibility.”

In the House, the language defunding Planned Parenthood would be included in the Energy and Commerce Committee’s reconciliation bill. In the Senate, it would be included in the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee’s reconciliation bill.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, told reporters Jan. 5 her organization is working with Democrats and liberal groups on a campaign to stop Republican efforts to defund her organization. She said Planned Parenthood enjoys significant public support.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) told Bloomberg BNA Jan. 5 there will be dozens of rallies opposing ACA repeal and supporting Planned Parenthood in more than 20 cities Jan. 21, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Supporting Planned Parenthood and Trump represents an ideological divide within the Republican Party, Richards said. Trump and moderate Republicans don’t want to be caught on one side of this divide, she said.

“Donald Trump was not elected to defund Planned Parenthood,” Richards said. “Donald Trump and Mike Pence ran on a platform of creating jobs and re-employing Americans, and every single day they’re not doing that and instead attack women’s health care is a day people ask: ‘What is the true agenda of this administration?’”

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Ruoff in Washington at aruoff@bna.com and Jonathan Nicholson in Washington at jnicholson@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kendra Casey Plank at kcasey@bna.com

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