President Barack Obama has given Planned Parenthood a parting gift in the final weeks of his administration.
As reported by The Daily Signal’s Kelsey Harkness, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a rule that would prohibit states from blocking Planned Parenthood from receiving Title X family planning services grant money for reasons “unrelated” to its ability to provide family planning services.
The rule has been finalized and will be published in the Federal Register on Dec. 19.
The rule was proposed in response to several states’ attempt to defund Planned Parenthood after the nation’s largest abortion provider was featured in a series of undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress last year.
The videos raised questions about whether Planned Parenthood illegally profits off the sale of tissue from aborted babies.
Just this week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, referred Planned Parenthood and fetal tissue procurement companies to the FBI and Department of Justice for investigation and possible prosecution.
States—including Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin—redirected Title X funds to other entities, such as federally qualified health centers that offer comprehensive health care services to uninsured and low-income Americans.
After all, these federally qualified health centers are able to serve at least 8 times more individual patients than Planned Parenthood and they outnumber Planned Parenthood locations 13-to-1.
But the Obama administration is determined to block the states and give one last present to its political ally.
Thankfully, the next administration and Congress can ensure that this rule is short-lived.
Members of Congress have already warned federal agencies “against finalizing pending rules or regulations in the administration’s last days” and that should agencies refuse to heed the warning, members would work to “ensure that Congress scrutinizes your actions—and, if appropriate, overturns them—pursuant to the Congressional Review Act.”
According to the Congressional Review Act, Congress and a new president can overturn rules issued in the waning days of a previous administration.
The Congressional Research Service has estimated that anything submitted to Congress after the end of May 2016 can be undone in this manner, meaning there are many rules and regulations that the incoming Congress could and should vote to rescind.
The House Freedom Caucus has just issued a special report outlining more than 220 items across federal agencies that can be addressed next year, including the Department of Education transgender mandate, paid sick leave for federal contractors, and the Paris climate agreement on greenhouse gas emissions.
Incoming members should put Planned Parenthood’s parting gift on the list of items to address using the Congressional Review Act when Congress returns in the new year.