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Six Party Defections in Vote to Defund Planned Parenthood

King won't back any bill with funds for the president's immigration order. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
King won't back any bill with funds for the president's immigration order. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It was mostly a party line affair when the House voted Friday to defund Planned Parenthood for one year, 241-187.  

But, there were six exceptions: Three Republicans voted with the majority of Democrats against the bill, while two Democrats joined the majority of Republicans in favor. One Republican, Iowan Steve King, voted “present.” With the exception of King’s “present,” none of the votes are terribly surprising for longtime observers of Congress who have watched how members of both parties come down on bills dealing with abortion.  

Here are the members who didn’t vote with their colleagues and some context for their actions.  

The Republican who voted “present.”
1. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.  King, the most unusual of the defectors, is a staunch conservative who opposes abortion and is also a reliable thorn in GOP leadership’s side.  

King’s “present” was in protest of leadership’s attempt to pacify hard-liners in the House Republican Conference. The conference’s biggest abortion opponents think a continuing resolution is the appropriate vehicle for stripping funding from the women’s health organization that has come under scrutiny in the wake of videos of officials discussing the harvesting of fetal tissues.  

King wanted to make sure everyone knew he was not pacified. In a statement released in advance of Friday’s vote, he said, “The funding fight starts now — this is our marker — H.R. 3134 is not a sufficient vote to defund Planned Parenthood. I expect much stronger language than this in the CR coming up in the next few weeks. Innocent, unborn babies deserve more than just a show vote.”  

Republicans who voted “no.”
1. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y. Hanna says he supports the ban on late-term abortions and the so-called “Hyde Amendment” that prohibits federal funding for abortion services. He says the videos at the center of the Planned Parenthood controversy “should deeply disturb us all … [which] is why I support a fair Congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood, with a thorough review by the U.S. Department of Justice.” The moderate Republican lawmaker does, however, support the right to an abortion under other circumstances and he has never voted on congressional legislation restricting that right. “On this bill,” Hanna said Friday in a statement, “I stand in support of women’s health care.”  

2. Charlie Dent, R-Pa.  In 2013, Dent described GOP leadership’s decision to put an abortion bill on the floor like this: “The stupidity is simply staggering. ” The senior House appropriator argued at the time — as he does today — that Americans care about the economy and jobs, not bills that give fodder to Democrats’ narrative that the Republican Party is made up of men looking to infringe on a woman’s reproductive health decision. Also, while Dent has in the past supported legislation to bar federal funding for abortion, he has traditionally opposed congressional efforts to legislate restrictions on abortion access.  

3. Robert J. Dold, R-Ill.  Back in 2012, Dold — along with ex-Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif. — confronted then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor , R-Va., on the House floor during a vote to ban abortions after 20 weeks in the District of Columbia. The moderate lawmakers in vulnerable districts were livid at having to take a politically perilous messaging vote. Bono Mack and Dold both went on to lose their seats in the election later that year, with Dold running for re-election in 2014 and successfully reassuming his mantle on Capitol Hill.  

However, Dold’s 2014 foe, Democrat Brad Schneider, is back for a rematch, and Dold has to navigate with care ahead of 2016. Schneider has already lashed out against Dold on this issue, criticizing him for joining with Dent earlier this week on an amendment to the defunding bill.  

That amendment would have halted funding for 90 days to the Planned Parenthood clinics that received “compensation for facilitating the donation of fetal tissue products derived from an abortion,” according to the amendment text, while Congress waited for an investigation by the Justice Department to see if those clinics were involved in illegal activities surrounding fetal tissue.  

The amendment never got a vote on the floor.  

Democrats who voted “yes”
1. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill.  Lipinski is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a House contingent that’s conservative fiscally and, on some issues, socially. He’s also the co-chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, so his vote in favor of the bill on Friday was not surprising.  

2. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn.  Another Blue Dog Democrat, Peterson is known for conservative votes and for being unapologetic about it. He also survived a tough re-election race last year and knows his district expects a certain voting record on hot-button social issues.  

Correction : An earlier version of this post misidentified the state Bono Mack represented. It also mischarecterized the specifics of the Dent amendment.

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