Trump signs bill to let states strip fed funds from Planned Parenthood
President Donald Trump signed legislation Thursday allowing states to withhold federal family planning dollars from clinics that provide abortion services, a move that effectively deprives Planned Parenthood and several other family groups of a significant source of funding.
The move marked the 12th time that Trump has signed a resolution under the 1996 Congressional Review Act (CRA) abolishing a rule issued under President Barack Obama. Less than two hours later on Thursday, Trump signed a 13th measure abolishing a Labor Department regulation aimed at expanding retirement savings accounts.
Although most of these ceremonies have taken place before the cameras, these two signings were closed to the press. The ceremony for the family planning rule was attended by Seema Verma, director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; the leaders of the Susan B. Anthony List and Concerned Women for America; one of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Diane Black, D-Tenn.; and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway.
While congressional Republicans have overturned several Obama-era rules with ease under the CRA – which allows lawmakers to nullify regulations within 60 legislative days of enactment as long as the president agrees – the elimination of the Health and Human Services regulation was more controversial. Vice President Pence had to cast the tiebreaking vote in the Senate on March 30 to send the bill to the president.
Trump did not issue a statement Thursday, though the White House announced that he had signed the bill. CMS spokeswoman Jane Norris said in an email, “President Trump is delivering on his promise to give states the flexibility that they need to make health care decisions that best meet their citizens’ unique needs.”
Title X funding does not pay for abortions, because that is barred under federal law, but it does fund birth control, cancer screenings and both tests and treatment for sexually-transmitted diseases.
Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser, who attended the signing ceremony, said in a statement that the signing represented the latest example of Trump delivering on his promise to stop abortions from being performed in the United States.
“This week the pro-life movement had two huge victories: first, the swearing-in of Justice Gorsuch, and now, President Trump will undo former president Obama’s parting gift to the abortion industry,” she said. “We expect to see Congress continue its efforts to redirect additional taxpayer funding away from Planned Parenthood through pro-life health-care reform after the spring recess.”
While GOP congressional leaders face some resistance in their efforts to completely defund Planned Parenthood, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called reversing the rule the Obama administration issued in December “a major pro-life victory.”
“Taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortion, plain and simple,” Ryan said in a statement. “We remain united and steadfast in our commitment to life and religious liberty.”