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Republicans accuse Biden of seeking to shift funds from pro-life centers to Planned Parenthood

Congressional Republicans urged the Biden administration to withdraw a proposed rule that would pull Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding from pro-life pregnancy centers, saying it looks like an attempt to “funnel taxpayer dollars to the abortion industry.”

The Health and Human Services Department said in its proposed rule issued Oct. 2 that the pro-life centers fail to meet the program’s requirements because their dedication to “preventing and reducing out-of-wedlock pregnancies is tenuous or non-existent,” but the Republicans disagreed.

“For decades, pregnancy centers have stood in the gap and generously provided free assistance to women, babies, and families in their moments of need — actions aligned with TANF’s purposes,” said the Dec. 1 letter, which was led by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi and Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey and released Monday.

About 2,700 pro-life pregnancy centers offer a wide variety of free services to pregnant women and mothers, including parenting classes, family counseling, housing services and job-finding assistance, as well as diapers and baby clothes.

“The Proposed Rule, however, would undermine the TANF program and threaten to strip millions of dollars in support for pregnant women and their unborn babies through pregnancy centers, maternity homes, and alternatives to abortion programs,” the lawmakers said.

Enacted in 1996, TANF has four objectives: providing assistance so that children may be cared for in their own home or that of relatives; ending the dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work and marriage; preventing and reducing the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies; and encouraging two-parent families.

“States can use federal TANF and state MOE [maintenance of effort] dollars to meet any of the four purposes set out in the 1996 law,” said the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The lawmakers said the “mere fact pregnancy centers perform some activities that are outside the scope of TANF’s third purpose does not disqualify them from receiving TANF funds.”

“HHS does not cite any evidence that pregnancy centers or others receiving TANF funding under alternatives to abortion programs are unlawfully using Federal funds for non-TANF purposes,” said the letter.

“This suggests HHS is targeting pregnancy centers for their pro-life mission rather than for any kind of misuse of Federal funds,” the lawmakers said.

They noted that Planned Parenthood also receives TANF funding even though spending federal dollars on abortion is prohibited.

The proposed rule seeks to direct the grants to “comprehensive sex education, family planning services, pregnancy prevention programs, and community mobilization services for at risk youth that increase access to pregnancy prevention for teens.”

“Chillingly, HHS suggests TANF support for pregnancy centers should be steered toward family planning programs more typical of the business models of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry instead,” the letter said.

Comments on the proposed rule, Strengthening Temporary Assistance for Needy Families as a Safety Net and Work Program, were due Dec. 1.

The letter was signed by 11 Senate Republicans and 19 House Republicans.

Groups that support withdrawing the rule include Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, the Family Research Council, Americans United for Life, CatholicVote, Heartbeat International, Care Net, National Right to Life, March for Life Action, the Ethics and Public Policy Center HHS Accountability Project, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the Family Policy Alliance, Live Action, and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates.

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𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆:
𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗠𝗖𝗔,
𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗮𝘁