Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday was called into the Senate to rescue legislation aimed at overturning a Obama administration rule that currently prevents states from blocking federal grants to abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood.
Senate Republicans made a motion to proceed to the legislation, and while a simple majority was needed to advance it, Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voted against it. That left the Senate in a 50-50 tie, which required Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote.
It's the second time Pence has had to help the narrow 52-48 GOP majority in the Senate. He also cast the deciding vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as President Trump's education secretary.
The close Thursday vote means Pence might also be needed again in a final passage vote.
The resolution was written under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn recent regulations. Their target is a rule from the Department of Health and Human Services that prohibits states from denying Title X funding to abortion providers.
In February, the House voted 230-188 to overturn the regulation, and Senate passage would send the bill on to President Trump's desk to sign.
The Obama administration issued the rule because it wanted to ensure that states were allowed to direct the family-planning federal grants to county health departments, community health centers and other providers that perform abortions, including Planned Parenthood.
Republicans in Congress have tried to block federal money from going to Planned Parenthood and others that perform abortions. The CRA bill would allow states to decide whether to prevent federal money from going to abortion providers.
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., filed the CRA bills to overturn the rule.
"State legislatures around the country have spoken out about their preference for prioritizing more comprehensive primary and preventative care providers for the receipt of Title X funding," the pair wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, "and their voice should be respected by bureaucrats in the federal government."
"According to its 2014-2015 annual report, Planned Parenthood performed 323,999 abortion procedures in just one year. Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize the abortion industry in this country," they wrote. "Nor should they be forced to foot the bill for an organization like Planned Parenthood that has displayed such blatant disregard for human life."