Key Vote: “YES” on Disapproval of the HHS Rule requiring Title X funds to go to Planned Parenthood
This week, the Senate will consider House-passed H.J.Res. 43,a disapproval resolution sponsored by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) 85% and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) 60%. The disapproval resolution would overturn a final rule submitted by Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) relating to compliance with Title X requirements by project recipients in selecting sub-recipients. Title X of the Public Health Service Act provides federal funds to states for family planning grants. Once states receive the funds, they have the ability to prioritize subrecipients, directing funds to organizations like community health centers and family health clinics. While federal law prohibits government funding for abortion, it does allow certain public dollars, like the Title X grants, to support abortion providers if the funds are directed to non-abortion related health services. Under this exception, Planned Parenthood has been eligible to receive Title X funds, per the states’ discretion.
However, after the Center for Medical Progress released undercover videos suggesting that Planned Parenthood Federation of America affiliates are harvesting and selling the body parts of aborted unborn children, many states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin, took steps to ensure that Title X funds were flowing to real health care clinics –not the abortion industry. But, as Melanie Israel at The Heritage Foundation explains in her article Planned Parenthood Will Keep Obama’s Parting Gift Unless Congress Acts, the Obama Administration’s HHS stepped in to protect Planned Parenthood’s federal funding stream:
“In the waning weeks of the Obama administration, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services submitted a final rule. It prohibits states from disqualifying Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from family planning programs under Title X of the Public Health Service Act for reasons “unrelated” to the organization’s ability to provide family planning services…HHS proposed the rule in response to attempts at the state level to redirect funding—including Title X funding, in some cases—from Planned Parenthood. Many of those efforts came after the nation’s largest abortion provider was featured in a series of undercover videos released in 2015 by the pro-life Center for Medical Progress.”
Despite this parting gift, Israel goes on to explain that the new Congress and President Trump have a unique opportunity to overturn this rule by using the Congressional Review Act, but time is ticking:
“Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress and a new president may overturn rules issued in the waning days of a previous administration. As Heritage Foundation research fellows James Gattuso and Daren Bakst explain, “the CRA provides a streamlined process for Congress to disapprove a final rule without threat of a filibuster…The clock is ticking for Congress to reverse President Barack Obama’s parting gift to Planned Parenthood. The House voted Feb. 16 to undo the HHS rule. The Senate should follow suit in using the Congressional Review Act disapproval process to send the resolution to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.”
Overturning this rule is the appropriate step for Congress to take, to both protect life and reassert that the states have Tenth Amendment rights to allocate Title X family planning grants in such a manner that prioritizes community health clinics and true family planning over the industrial abortion industry as represented by Planned Parenthood. The HHS rule is a classic example of excessive federal rulemaking and executive overreach for partisan political gain, making it a perfect target for nullification under the CRA.
Heritage Action supports H.J.Res. 43 and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.