Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Senate may give Planned Parenthood Zika funding in new Continuing Resolution

GOP Aide: Senate Republicans’ Budget Bill Opens up 
Possible Zika Funding for Planned Parenthood


Dustin Siggins, Stream.org
A GOP Senate Appropriations Committee aide has confirmed to The Stream that Republicans will allow Planned Parenthood to “apply for reimbursements” under new Zika prevention funding proposed by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

On Thursday, the Republican-controlled committee released a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the federal government’s operations funded until December 9. Federal funding is currently approved through September 30, after which discretionary operations of the government would shut down. In addition to funding the federal government, the CR bill provides $500 million for emergency flood assistance in several states, and provides $1.1 billion to fight the spread of the Zika virus.

Democrats have thrice-blocked a stand-alone funding bill intended to fight Zika in Florida, Puerto Rico and elsewhere, in part because Planned Parenthood would be unable to access $95 million used to stop the virus’ spread.

The New Funding

Politico reports that the CR bill does not include several non-funding priorities of each party, such as an Internet provision preferred by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and emergency funding for Flint, Michigan, desired by Democrats. The lack of funding for Flint and the non-inclusion of a financial provision preferred by Democrats led President Barack Obama’s press secretary to say on Friday that the president is considering vetoing the budget bill.

But it is the Zika funding that is creating controversy on the pro-life right. Democrats have held up funding for months because Republicans declined to open up a $95 million pot for access by Planned Parenthood. Now, that’s changed, according to an internal Capitol Hill analysis provided to The Stream.

That analysis notes that Hyde Amendment limitations on the $1.1 billion in Zika prevention and vaccine funding are in place, thus limiting potential use for abortions to those related to rape, incest and life of the mother. Planned Parenthood may be able to access portions of $95 million being sent to Puerto Rico ($60 million), $15 million for states that have “local transmissions” of Zika (so far, Florida), and $20 million for a Puerto Rico-specific “Maternal and Child Health Block Grant” that will go through a specific funding mechanism that the analysis states “has never been used for Planned Parenthood.”

According to the GOP aide, “the Zika agreement does not provide funding for any particular non-government organization. Like other health care providers, Planned Parenthood and its two affiliate clinics in Puerto Rico are not guaranteed funding in any form.”

“Health care providers will be eligible to apply for reimbursements through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) or through the Puerto Rico Department of Health,” continued the aide.

Pro-life advocates may also take issue with the funding of contraceptives. Many forms also act as an abortion-inducing drug or device. None of this money is going through Title X, which is where Planned Parenthood gets tens of millions annually for providing contraceptives and abortifacients to women.

The rest of the money is going to international aid, vaccine development and other Zika-related efforts. That funding is detailed by the committee’s official summary of the Zika section of the funding bill.

One Heritage Foundation analyst accused Republicans of giving Planned Parenthood a chance to “get a raise,” since the CR funds both the annual $500 million-plus that typically goes to Planned Parenthood and leaves open the door to other reimbursements.

Live Action’s Lila Rose urged supporters to tell Congress to reject the CR, saying that Planned Parenthood is “exploiting the Zika crisis and taxpayers to boost its bottom line even more.”

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