Senate panel repeals 'global gag rule' on abortion funding

Senate appropriators voted 18-12 on Thursday to reinstate funding for family-planning programs abroad, setting up a clash with the House.

The amendment to the $52.1 billion foreign aid and operations bill was introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). It permanently repeals the so-called “global gag rule,” which bars federal funding for nonprofit groups that promote or provide abortions.

“House Republicans continue efforts to put politics in the way of vital health care for women by attempting to reinstate the global gag rule,” Lautenberg said in a statement. “This amendment ensures this backwards policy never returns and protects access to family planning services for some of the world’s poorest women.”

Senate Republicans said the amendment could derail the bipartisan bill by creating an insurmountable clash with the House. The House Appropriations Committee voted down a similar amendment 23-27 last week.

“This is where we break apart,” said Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination Senate panel moving ahead with Mueller bill despite McConnell opposition Overnight Defense: Lawmakers worry over Syria strategy | Trump's base critical of strikes | Flake undecided on Pompeo | Coast Guard plans to keep allowing transgender members | GOP chair wants to cut B from Pentagon agencies MORE (R-S.C.).

Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.) voted against the amendment, while Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Energy: Trump NASA pick advances after drama | White House office to investigate Pruitt's soundproof booth | 170 lawmakers call for Pruitt to resign Trump's NASA nominee advances after floor drama Family, friends mourn death of Barbara Bush MORE (R-Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenators press administration on mental health parity Overnight Energy: Watchdogs unveil findings on EPA, Interior controversies | GAO says EPA violated law with soundproof booth | IG says Zinke could have avoided charter flight | GOP chair probes Pruitt's four email addresses GOP fractures over push to protect Russia probe MORE (R-Alaska) and Mark KirkMark Steven KirkHigh stakes as Trump heads to Hill Five things to watch for at Trump-Senate GOP meeting Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns MORE (R-Ill.) sided with Democrats.