WASHINGTON, D.C., April 9, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Faced with a looming government shutdown and stonewalling by the Obama administration, Republicans on Friday night lost the battle to defund Planned Parenthood in the federal budget bill.
However, party leaders managed to claim victory on one important pro-life rider - ending taxpayer-funded abortion in the District of Columbia - and may also have secured a promise from the Senate to vote on Planned Parenthood funding in a separate measure.
The administration placed Republicans in a nearly impossible position as it became clear that Democrats would prefer to shut down the government - an event that would be blamed on the GOP – than give up taxpayer funding for America’s abortion giant.
“They were faced with a choice — they would either have to give in or shut down the government,” one senior aide told Politico, describing House Speaker John Boehner’s fruitless discussion with Obama over Planned Parenthood Thursday night. Politico reports that defunding Planned Parenthood was “a nonstarter” for Obama and that Vice President Joe Biden told Boehner “in no uncertain terms that his demand was unacceptable.”
The administration’s fierce defense of Planned Parenthood was echoed by Sen. Majority Whip Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) at a Planned Parenthood rally Thursday. “The dangerous, ideological cuts to Planned Parenthood that passed the House are never, never, never going to pass the Senate,” said Schumer. “Let me repeat that, so all those who want to stomp on women’s health and women’s rights can hear us loud and clear. The dangerous, ideological cuts to Planned Parenthood that passed the House are never, never, never going to pass the Senate.”
At first Democrats appeared equally willing to stonewall against defunding abortions in the District of Columbia: President Obama and Senate Democrats vowed this week to reject a short-term budget that contained a rider defunding D.C. abortions.
But late Friday night, negotiations appear to have forced the administration to back down on the local abortion funding, something pro-abortion D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton had warned the president not to do in a letter posted on her website.
In lieu of the Planned Parenthood rider, Carl Cameron of Fox News reports that Senate Democrats have agreed to allow a separate vote on the organization’s funding, as well as a vote to defund the health care reform law. The deal also reportedly mandates several audits of Obama administration policies.
Speaker Boehner also won significant gains in cutting spending, with the administration agreeing to nearly $40 billion in cuts - a number the National Journal reported the administration conceded to as part of a deal to take Planned Parenthood off the table.
According to the Washington Times, the GOP managed to swing the largest ever non-defense spending cuts in a Congressional budget, according to dollar amount. Some conservative Republicans in the House nonetheless criticized the amount as too far below their $61 billion goal.
After reaching the deal early Saturday morning, Congress quickly passed and sent a short-term spending bill to the White House that will keep the government running until the end of next week, allowing time to pass the long-term measure.