Senate Finance Panel Agrees at Last—to Fund Abstinence Ed

Conrad, Lincoln, join GOP to pass measure
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2009 8:12 AM CDT
Senate Finance Committee members Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, left, and Sen. Kent Conrad, D-ND, talk on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – On the same day it voted to kill Democrats' hopes for a health bill with a public option, the Senate Finance Committee showed the love to abstinence. Committee Republicans displayed a little nostalgia for the Bush administration, voting to restore $50 million a year in federal funding for abstinence-only education that President Obama has pushed to eliminate. The 12-11 vote came over objections from chairman Max Baucus.

Democrats Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas joined all 10 committee Republicans in voting for Orrin Hatch's proposal; the measure will still have to pass the full House and Senate. Obama had proposed in his 2010 budget to direct money spent on abstinence-only education to broader teen pregnancy-reduction programs. An alternate measure offered by Baucus to make money available for education on contraception and STDs in addition to abstinence also passed, in a 14-9 vote.