GOP senator defends funding Planned Parenthood

Republican Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: Novartis pulls back on drug price hikes | House Dems launch Medicare for All caucus | Trump officials pushing ahead on Medicaid work requirements Senate panel to vote next week on banning 'gag clauses' in pharmacy contracts GOP senator: Trump's changing stances on Russian threat are 'dizzying' MORE (Maine) continued to break with some of her party's priorities on Sunday, speaking out against defunding Planned Parenthood as part of the Senate's recently unveiled healthcare legislation.

“It makes absolutely no sense to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood,” Collins told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week.”

The moderate Republican’s comments come just days after Senate Republicans revealed proposed legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare, which would defund the nonprofit, which provides women’s health services and abortions.  

The bill moves to defund Planned Parenthood for a year by blocking Medicaid reimbursements.

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“There are already longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion, so this is not what this debate is about. And Planned Parenthood is an important provider of healthcare services, including family planning and cancer screenings for millions of Americans, particularly women,” she continued.

“I am optimistic we'll prevail on that issue,” Collins said, referring to amending the legislation.

Planned Parenthood distributed the clip of the GOP lawmaker praising the organization on Sunday.

Collins is not the only Republican who has criticized various parts of the bill.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThis week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 MORE (R-Alaska) said this month she was “committed” to funding Planned Parenthood.

In 2015, the two senators joined forces with then-Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkThis week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill Trump attending Senate GOP lunch Tuesday High stakes as Trump heads to Hill MORE (R-Ill.) to attempt to do away with a provision that would defund the nonprofit in the Senate repeal bill.

Murkowski and Collins now find themselves in a group of GOP senators expressing concerns about the legislation. Five senators have bucked leadership, saying they would not vote for the bill in its present form. 

The Senate's healthcare legislation currently does not have enough support to pass, according to The Hill's Whip List. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate GOP breaks record on confirming Trump picks for key court Senate Democrats block resolution supporting ICE The Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s walk-back fails to stem outrage on Putin meeting MORE (R-Ky.) has little margin for error, as he can afford just two defections from his conference with all Democrats expected to oppose the bill. Vice President Pence could then be called in to break the tie.