I'm sure the House Clerk has had his hands full all week, with the nearly 600 amendments filed and the many that were voted on during the fiscal 2011 spending debate. As a result, his website has been rather slow to update. At this point, though, we have all the votes on the spending bill, and there are two I'd like to point out right away. I'll look at the final vote in a subsequent post, but here is the first one, yesterday's Pence Amendment, by which the House voted rather convincingly to stop $363 million in subsidies for the nation's largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, and its many affiliates nationwide.
Even if you're not a social conservative, funding for Planned Parenthood as a fiscal and a campaign finance issue. Currently, taxpayers are effectively subsidizing the Democratic Party. Planned Parenthood is a charity with plenty of donors. There's no reason why taxpayers should have to support their favorite charity so that they can give more of their money to Democrats.
Take, for example, Planned Parenthood of Greater Indiana. Its IRS 990 form for 2009 reports that this affiliate had $10.6 million in revenue from patient services (including $1.2 million from Medicaid -- an entitlement not covered by this spending bill). It raised $2 million and then took in $3 million in government grants. On the other side of the ledger, the group reports providing $14.6 million in services. With additional efforts to raise money and a bit of budgeting, they could probably operate at the same pace without the special handouts. (Their medical director made about $300,000 in 2009 -- if he believes very strongly in the cause, perhaps he can settle for a bit less.)
Ten Democrats had supported the Pence amendment, and that seven Republicans had voted against it. Now we have the names:
Democrats voting to de-fund Planned Parenthood:
Dan Boren, Okla.
Jerry Costello, Ill.
Dan Lipinski, Ill.
Mike McIntyre, N.C.
Collin Peterson, Minn.
Nick Rahall, W.Va.
Silvestre Reyes, Tex.
Mike Ross, Ark.
Heath Shuler, N.C.
These are mostly the usual suspects, although I'm surprised to see Ross on this list, because he has voted against similar amendments in the past (most recently in July 2010). I was not too surprised to see that Rep. Ben Chandler, Ky., voted to keep up funding for Planned Parenthood.
Now here are the Republicans who voted to preserve Planned Parenthood funding:
Charlie Bass, N.H.
Judy Biggert, Ill.
Mary Bono-Mack, Calif.
Charlie Dent, Pa.
Robert Dold, Ill.
Richard Hanna, N.Y.
Rodney Frelinghuysen, N.J.
Most of these are unsurprising, but note Hanna, who is quickly becoming the most disappointing freshman Republican. He also voted earlier this week to keep funding the 17-year-old COPS program. And I'm also pleasantly surprised to see that Nan Hayworth, R-N.Y., voted aye and is not on this list.
Seven members (two Republicans and five Democrats) did not vote, but I looked at the names and I don't think any them would have crossed party lines.
I'd also point out that Justin Amash, R, a freshman from western Michigan, was the only member to vote "present." Here is the explanation he gives on his Facebook page:
Legislation that names a specific private organization to defund (rather than all organizations that engage in a particular activity) is improper and arguably unconstitutional. Moreover, the legislation is easily thwarted because the organization may simply change its name.
As a conservative, and as the Representative for the people of Michigan’s Third District, I cannot vote "yes" on legislation that violates the rule of law and does not take the process of legislating seriously. A responsible amendment—one that I would fully support—would defund all abortion providers. That is why I support Mike Pence’s H R 217, which cuts off all federal funds to any organization that performs an abortion—including Planned Parenthood.
I think he makes a mistake by accepting the premise that individual groups have some kind of right to federal money and that barring them is constitutionally dubious. No such right exists, and the Second Circuit Appeals Court ruled on the latter issue this last year when it upheld the ACORN defunding provision.