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GOP senator defends funding Planned Parenthood

Republican Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate rejects Sanders minimum wage hike Murkowski votes with Senate panel to advance Haaland nomination OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior reverses Trump policy that it says restricted science | Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination | Republicans press Biden environment nominee on Obama-era policy 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 MurkowskiGOP senator defends Cheney, Murkowski after Trump rebuke Trump promises to travel to Alaska to campaign against Murkowski GOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill 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 KirkSenate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Senate makes SCOTUS nominee Barrett a proxy for divisive 2020 Senate Republicans scramble to put Trump at arm's length 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 McConnellDemocrats near pressure point on nixing filibuster  We need a voting rights workaround Biden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package 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.