Vulnerable GOP senator: ‘No problems’ with Planned Parenthood funding

Greg Nash

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said Monday during a combative town hall that he supports federal funding for Planned Parenthood. 

“I have no problems with federal funding for Planned Parenthood,” Heller said when asked about his support for the health organization. 

The GOP senator was booed when he initially appeared to hedge his answer on whether or not he supports federal funding for Planned Parenthood. 

He said lawmakers would “continue to look at this issue” before adding: “I will protect Planned Parenthood.” 

Heller—who is the most vulnerable Senate Republican up for reelection—and Rep. Mark Amodei (Nev.) faced a rancorous two-hour town hall on Monday. They fielded multiple questions on Planned Parenthood and a vote last month that could allow states to cut off Title X family-planning funding to the organization.

{mosads}Heller defended his vote, arguing it wasn’t about defunding Planned Parenthood but about giving more flexibility to states on Title X funding. 

“As a conservative I think the states should be making those decisions,” he said during Monday’s event. “These decisions have always been made at the state level.” 

Heller sparked another round of boos from some in the audience when he added that the debate on Planned Parenthood boiled down to “whether federal funding should cover some of the actives that occur in Planned Parenthood.”

The 1976 statute known as the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funds for covering abortions, has been included in annual appropriations bills. 

Democrats and outside groups immediately pounced on Heller’s comments, accusing him of flip-flopping after previously supporting legislation that would defund Planned Parenthood. 

Stewart Boss, a spokesman for the state’s Democratic Party, said Heller “lied repeatedly about his record.” 

“His blatant lying was an insult to his constituents and a show of disgusting disrespect for Nevada voters. The truth is in Senator Heller’s unpopular voting record, and he will have to defend these votes in 2018,” he said. 

Heller voted for the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill that defunded Planned Parenthood, and voted against a GOP amendment to get rid of the section of the bill that cut off federal funding for the organization.

But he also voted against moving forward with a government funding bill in September 2015 that would have defunded the organization.

Steve Sebelius, a columnist for the Las-Vegas Review Journal, noted after the town hall that Heller’s then-spokesman told him in January that the GOP senator didn’t back federal funding for Planned Parenthood. 

Updated 4:58 p.m.

Tags Dean Heller Mark Amodei
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