WASHINGTON — A Senate committee voted Tuesday night to restore $50 million a year in federal funding for abstinence-only education that President Barack Obama has pushed to eliminate.
The 12-11 vote by the Senate Finance Committee came over objections from its chairman, Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana.
Two Democrats – Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas – joined all 10 committee Republicans in voting "yes" on the measure by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah.
The measure would still have to pass the full House and Senate. Hatch said abstinence education had been shown to work, though Baucus disagreed. Obama had proposed in his 2010 budget to direct money spent on abstinence-only education to broader teen pregnancy-reduction programs.
An alternate measure offered by Baucus also passed. Baucus' measure, which passed 14-9, would make money available for education on contraception and sexually transmitted diseases, among other things, in addition to abstinence. Lawmakers will have to reconcile the two measures, both approved during debate on a sweeping health overhaul bill, as the legislation moves forward.