House passes breast cancer research bill that excludes Komen

Breast Cancer, Susan G. Koman, Cure
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The House revived legislation Wednesday to help increase funding for breast cancer research, one day after GOP leaders pulled it from consideration due to a fight over abortion.

The bill, which passed 421-9, would create a pink commemorative coin in 2018 and donate proceeds from the coin sales to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) voted "present," while all nine votes in opposition were from Republicans.

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Originally, the measure would have funneled revenue from coin sales that goes beyond recovering the costs of production to both the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. But many Republicans balked on Tuesday due to concerns that the Komen organization has had ties to Planned Parenthood, resulting in GOP leaders abruptly removing the bill from the schedule.

The bipartisan bill, authored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas), had more than 300 co-sponsors at the start of the day Tuesday. That number dwindled after Heritage Action, a powerful conservative group, urged Republicans to vote against it.

Heritage Action’s influence over Republicans threatened the vote count under a fast-track process that requires a two-thirds majority for passage. The group rescinded its “key vote” against the bill once the provision directing funds to Susan G. Komen was removed on Wednesday.

The fight over abortion came as Republicans were denouncing an undercover video purportedly showing a Planned Parenthood official discussing the transfer of aborted fetus organs. House GOP leaders ordered committees on Wednesday to investigate the video.

Planned Parenthood has said the video “grossly mischaracterizes” fetal tissue donations.

Maloney said in an interview that she was "stunned" and "devastated" upon learning the bill would have to be pulled from the floor on Tuesday because of Heritage Action's opposition.

"I think it's very unfair, because they don't do abortions," Maloney said of the ire directed at the Susan G. Komen organization.

In addition to the $5 gold commemorative coins created by the bill, the U.S. Treasury would issue $1 silver and half-dollar coins recognizing breast cancer research. 

Maloney touted the measure as a way to help raise millions of dollars for breast cancer research without using taxpayer funds.

"It's like a win-win-win. More research, more healthcare, no taxpayer money," Maloney said.

House GOP leaders turned the bill around quickly compared to other legislation they’ve had to pull from the floor this year. Just last week, the House canceled votes on an Interior Department spending bill due to controversy over the display of the Confederate flag in national cemeteries. 

Bills regarding abortion, border security and No Child Left Behind reform have also been pulled from the House floor this year. House GOP leaders eventually resuscitated the abortion and education measures months later.