The Senate on Thursday rejected a measure that would have blocked federal government funding to Planned Parenthood. The amendment, proposed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), was defeated 45-48, needing 60 votes to pass.
The amendment was proposed for attachment to an appropriations bill funding the department of Labor and Health and Human Services. Speaking after the vote, Paul said that the result showed many Republican lawmakers prioritized increased government spending over life issues.
“While I am disappointed in the outcome of this vote, I will never apologize for standing up for life. If it took exposing the preference of so many in my own party to continue reckless spending over protecting the innocent, it was a fight worth having,” the senator said.
Paul had previously blamed GOP leadership for filling up slots for potential amendments to the appropriations bill with empty placeholders in order to keep his proposal from making it into the final version. He said that they did so out of fears that an attempt to defund the controversial abortion provider could hold up other spending increases contained in the bill.
“One of the top priorities for a Republican Congress that professes pro-life values on the campaign trail should be to stop taxpayer funding for abortion providers,” the senator said when announcing the amendment. “This is our chance to turn our words into action, stand up for the sanctity of life, and speak out for the most innocent among us that have no voice.”
Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska both voted against the amendment and won public praise from Planned Parenthood executive vice president Dawn Laguens for “standing up and protecting access” to abortion.
While Paul blamed Republicans for the amendment’s failure, several Democrat senators facing closely contested reelection battles also voted against it.
Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana are all facing serious challenges in November and voted against Paul’s amendment.
The Democratic Party has become increasingly insistent on strong pro-abortion credentials for candidates. A committee of McCaskill’s own Missouri Democratic Party voted to remove language acknowledging different views of abortion from their party platform earlier this month, and Senator Manchin, though previously considered to be a pro-life Democrat, has been increasingly public in his support for Planned Parenthood and abortion.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said that the senate vote would have consequences in the mid-term election in November.
“Vulnerable Democratic Senators have betrayed their constituents yet again by voting to fund abortion giant Planned Parenthood, and will be held accountable at the ballot box,” she said.