The Senate on Thursday advanced legislation that would allow states to block federal funding to Planned Parenthood, after calling in Vice President Pence to break a tie, Politico reports. First, Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson was called in to the procedural vote, despite the fact that he's recovering from back surgery. He walked in with a walker but did cast his vote, bringing the total to 50-50. Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate, but Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted with Democrats on this issue, forcing Republicans to keep the vote open for just over an hour to get their win, Fox News reports.
The legislation would allow states to block funding that's earmarked for family planning, and Collins explained that's why she opposes it: "It’s important to recognize that there is already a bar against using federal funds for abortion and that bar stays in effect. That’s a prohibition that I personally support, but I’m a strong supporter of family planning funds." Now that the procedural vote has passed, the Senate can hold a final vote later Thursday to officially repeal an Obama-era regulation that kept states from blocking Planned Parenthood from receiving funding from Title X family planning grants. The House already voted to reverse the regulation in February, USA Today reports. This is the second time Pence has had to break a tie since becoming VP; the last time a VP had to do it prior to Pence was in 2005, the Washington Post reports. (Read more Planned Parenthood stories.)