GOP on defunding Planned Parenthood: yes in reconciliation bill, no in budget fight
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 2, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Media reports and two Senate GOP aides have confirmed that the GOP will push for a Planned Parenthood repeal in a reconciliation vote this week – and avoid the same fight in a budget bill next week.
According to Politico, Senate Republicans have agreed on a bill that will repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act and defund America's largest abortion company. That bill, which is expected to be vetoed by President Obama, will avoid a Democratic filibuster – and even though it won't become law, it has other value, two Senate GOP aides told LifeSiteNews.
"This is a messaging vote," said one aide. "We are showing the American people that the Republican Party has the votes to repeal Obamacare once Obama is out of office."
The other aide explained that Senate Republicans are committed to doing everything they can to help hardworking families "break free of" the Affordable Care Act, and that "there are many Republicans who are working behind the scenes to find a path to defund Planned Parenthood."
"Republicans didn't overpromise on defunding Planned Parenthood," stated the aide. "They said they would fight to defund the organization, and that's what you've seen from numerous conservatives."
Ashlee Strong, a spokesperson for House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-WI, declined to say what the new House leader would do strategically. She told LifeSiteNews that "the House has a select committee to focus on protecting life, and the speaker believes they should be in the driver's seat."
Indicating that the GOP is responsive to the concerns of pro-life Republicans, Strong noted that "the Senate is voting this week to defund Planned Parenthood."
Republicans have been under significant pressure to use their congressional majorities to defund Planned Parenthood. However, Democratic filibusters, veto threats, and dissension in the ranks have held up measures pro-lifers see as top priorities.
One of the GOP aides had worse news for another top priority for pro-life advocates – defunding Planned Parenthood in a government funding bill that must be signed by President Obama by December 11 in order to avoid a partial government shutdown. The aide said that "conservatives should not expect a PP defunding rider attached to the omnibus next week."
Strong said that Speaker Ryan "has said he will not predetermine what is included in the omnibus as the Appropriations Committee is still negotiating the details." On Monday, his chief deputy, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, told reporters that Planned Parenthood defunding language could be added to a budget bill. "I expect there to be a healthy debate on every place the government spends money and that's the way democracy works."
However, McCarthy also stated that "I do not see a shutdown happening." Democrats nearly caused a shutdown in October, when they refused to fund the U.S. government without sending tax dollars to Planned Parenthood.
McCarthy's announcement has led to speculation that a defunding measure will not be added to the budget legislation next week.
Last month, Ryan told CNN's Dana Bash that "being an effective opposition party means being honest with people upfront about what it is we can and cannot achieve" when it comes to Planned Parenthood funding, adding that "we also have to push issues where we can push issues. We have to speak truth to power."
"We have a president that isn't willing to listen," Ryan said, saying that Obama "isn't going to sign lots of our bills into law, we have a Senate that has a very difficult process when it comes to actually getting bills voted on, so knowing that we have those constraints, we have to operate within those constraints."