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Funding for women’s health care in New Jersey has become a line of attack in the race between U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and his Republican challenger, state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, R-Monmouth.
In their first debate Thursday before the general election on Nov. 6, Menendez claimed that Kyrillos has voted six times to oppose women’s health care funding.
"When he had an opportunity to vote for women in terms of their health care, not once, not twice, but six times, he voted against women’s health care in our state," the Democratic senator said near the start of the debate.
He repeated the claim in his closing statement: "And not once, not twice, but six times he voted against funding for women’s health care in our state, while I was bringing millions of dollars for those women to get health care."
The senator’s claim is on solid ground. Between June 2010 and June 2012, Kyrillos voted six times against providing about $7.5 million for family planning services, which could include breast exams, pregnancy testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. The money could not be used for abortion procedures.
Chapin Fay, Kyrillos’ campaign manager, responded in a statement: "New Jerseyans know that Joe Kyrillos is a pro-choice Republican who's voted for millions of dollars in women's health initiatives, and that's a fact."
Let’s go through those six votes.
Since Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, eliminated the money in his budget for fiscal year 2011, the Democrat-led state Legislature has tried unsuccessfully to restore it. As we found in a previous fact-check, that funding reduction led to the closure of six family planning centers across the state.
The first set of Kyrillos’ votes occurred on June 28, 2010, when the state Senate considered a bill that would restore the roughly $7.5 million. The Senate cast two sets of votes to pass the bill, and Kyrillos voted no each time.
The state Assembly later passed the bill, but Christie vetoed it.
On Sept. 20, 2010, the Senate failed to get enough votes to override the veto. Kyrillos voted against the override.
On May 23, 2011, the Senate put forward another bill that would restore the funding for fiscal year 2011, and Kyrillos voted no. That bill passed the Senate, but was not voted on in the Assembly.
Soon afterward, the legislature included the $7.5 million in the fiscal year 2012 budget sent to the governor, but Christie eliminated that funding as part of his line-item vetoes.
On July 11, 2011, when the Senate fell short of having enough votes to override that veto, Kyrillos voted against the override.
The most recent vote occurred on June 25, 2012, when the Senate passed a bill that would restore the funding for fiscal year 2012. Kyrillos voted no.
The Assembly also passed the bill that day, but Christie later vetoed it.
Here’s a chart breaking down Kyrillos’ votes against funding for family planning services:
|Date||Legislation||Proposed Action||Kyrillos Vote|
|June 28, 2010*||Senate Bill S-2139||Final passage||No|
|June 28, 2010||Senate Bill S-2139||Final passage||No|
|Sept. 20, 2010||Senate Bill S-2139||Override veto||No|
|May 23, 2011||Senate Bill S-2899||Final passage||No|
|July 11, 2011||FY2012 Budget||Override veto||No|
|June 25, 2012||Senate Bill S-788||Final passage||No|
*Due to an error in the original bill, the Senate voted twice on final passage of the legislation.
In a debate last week, Menendez said in reference to Kyrillos: "When he had an opportunity to vote for women in terms of their health care, not once, not twice, but six times, he voted against women’s health care in our state."
The senator’s claim is on target. Between June 2010 and June 2012, Kyrillos voted six times against providing about $7.5 million for family planning services.
We rate the statement True.
To comment on this ruling, go to NJ.com.
NJTV, NJ Decides 2012: Kyrillos/Menendez Debate for U.S. Senate, Oct. 4, 2012
PolitiFact New Jersey, Cory Booker blasts Chris Christie for slashing funding to Planned Parenthood, causing a reduction in health services, Sept. 4, 2012
PolitiFact New Jersey, State Sen. Loretta Weinberg says six of New Jersey’s 58 family planning centers closed because of budget cuts, June 10, 2011
Senate Bill S-2139, vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie
Senate Bill SCR-210, a bill to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto
Senate Bill S-2899, passed by the New Jersey State Senate
Senate Bill S-788, vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie
Menendez campaign website, Senator Menendez Keeps Command of 2012 Senate Race at First Debate, Oct. 4, 2012
Office of Legislative Services, Analysis of the Department of Health and Senior Services Budget: Fiscal Year 2010-2011, April 2010
E-mail interview with Paul Brubaker, communications director for Menendez campaign, Oct. 5, 2012
E-mail interview with Meaghan Cronin, spokeswoman for state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, Oct. 5, 2012
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