Members of the House and Senate sent their $8 billion budget plan to the governor Thursday — after fending off an attempted challenge by some Republicans unhappy it included non-abortion funding for Planned Parenthood.
The House had included language in its amended budget earlier this year that could strike out a state Medicaid match for family planning dollars towards Planned Parenthood. However, Senate President pro tempore Hugh Leatherman refused to go along with the idea. Angry social conservatives tried to send their members back to the negotiating table Thursday.
“(Those) that coach baseball know what you do when you’ve got two strikes,” State Rep. John McCravy, R-Greenwood, said. “You protect the plate and you go down swinging, if you go down.”
House leaders insisted the debate was a moot point. Gov. Henry McMaster has vowed to veto that language when it reaches his desk. Others insisted the estimated $13,000 in state money would go towards family planning services that do not include abortion. “You are voting against something that doesn’t even do what it’s purported to do,” State Rep. Kirkman Finlay, R-Columbia, said. “At the expense of true services (in the budget) that are helping teachers, families, security at prisons.”
State Sen. Richard Cash, R-Anderson, had tried to send the compromise budget back to conference, but only mustered nine other senators to support him. Senators ultimately approved the budget in a 30-9 vote and the House followed a few hours later 84-28.
The current fiscal year ends June 30. Since it is unlikely the governor will return all his vetoes before next week, the state government will operate under a continuing resolution until that time.
State Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, was frustrated that some members tried to block the extensive budget over a mere sliver of its funding. “When we draw lines in the dirt and say ‘My ideals are not yours therefore I can’t work with you and can’t vote with you,’ we lock the whole system down,” he said on the House floor. “Do we want to become (Washington) D.C.?”
Planned Parenthood did not perform any state-funded abortions last year, according to House leaders. All of the half-dozen cases funded by the state health plan were performed at hospitals and meant the exemption requirements for rape, incest or life of the mother.