As much as the Democrats are a fractured party, the Republicans have their problems as well. It just happens that the Republicans had a strong enough candidate for president not only to defeat Hillary Clinton, but to stem the expected losses in the Senate such that the Republicans retained their majority.
However, none of that makes Republican legislation a sure thing. You have the ever flaky John McCain, the self-styled maverick who appears confused as to his party affiliation. Then there are Senators Murkowski and Collins who lean left. So while the Senate is numerically Republican, a solidly conservative majority does not exist there.
This sets things up for some interesting votes. The 52 Republicans will stick together on procedural matters such as electing a Senate majority leader. But when it comes to issues that should lie at the foundation of the Republican Party, things get much more tenuous. In fact, they’ve gotten tenuous enough that Vice-President Mike Pence has had to exercise his authority to break a tie vote twice already.
The abortion issue was the focus of the most recent tie vote. Senators Murkowski and Collins are supporters of Planned Parenthood. Hence they opposed President Trump’s initiative to cut federal funding to the agency. This set up the tie vote.
“Vice President Mike Pence was called upon once again to cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate, this time to overturn an Obama era regulation blocking states from denying federal funds to abortion providers including Planned Parenthood. As was the case last month when Pence first had to step in to cast the deciding vote to confirm Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, liberal Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine were the defectors, setting up the 50-50 tie.”
The point of this vote was “to overturn the Obama rule taking power away from the states to direct where block-granted federal money would go.”
In other words, with the Obama rule eliminated, states could allocate these funds rather than having the allocation dictated to them from Washington.
Senator Joni Ernst and Representative Diane Black filed the bills in their respective chambers to overturn Obama’s rule. “‘According to its 2014-2015 annual report, Planned Parenthood performed 323,999 abortion procedures in just one year. Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize the abortion industry in this country,’ they wrote [in the Washington Examiner]. ‘Nor should they be forced to foot the bill for an organization like Planned Parenthood that has displayed such blatant disregard for human life.'”
While the House passed the measure easily, with Senators Murkowski and Collins breaking with the Republicans, it became necessary for Mr. Pence to break the tie.
Yet again this proves that elections do have real consequences. In this case, life and death ones.
Source: Western Journalism