Harry Reid: We’ll shut down government before we shut down Planned Parenthood funding
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 18, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A coalition of pro-abortion U.S. Senate Democrats led by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) say they would rather see the federal government shut down than allow cuts to Planned Parenthood’s federal funding.
Currently House Republicans and Senate Democrats are locked in a bitter struggle over passing a Continuing Resolution that would fund the government until the end of the 2011 fiscal year (FY). However, despite the federal government being on track to a $1.6 trillion deficit this year, adding on to an already colossal $14.1 trillion debt, Democrats continue to resist GOP proposals to start off with $61 billion in various cuts. The amount being debated is less than the debt the federal government accumulates in one day of spending.
However, Reid and 19 other Democrats say that if House Republicans include an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood in their long-term CR, then the measure will be dead on arrival in the Senate. Without funding authorization, the U.S. federal government will then shut down – a scenario Republicans say they want to avoid desperately.
“If that’s the case then shut it down,” said pro-life leader Rev. Frank Pavone, of Priests for Life. “When a government funds massive child-killing, it has betrayed its very purpose anyway. Maybe a shutdown will give our government officials a chance to reflect on what government should be doing in the first place – serving life, not helping to destroy it.”
The latest short-term CR is a three-week extension on the government’s operations – with just $6 billion in cuts and no Planned Parenthood defunding measure – that expires April 8. After that, Congress will have to choose to agree on a long-term CR, pass another short-term funding extension, or shut down the government.
The Hill reports that Reid held a press conference on Thursday, and told reporters that Rep. Mike Pence’s (R-Ind.) amendment defunding Planned Parenthood was one of several measures in the CR passed by the House that he found extremely objectionable.
“Those that I focused on are not only no, but hell no,” said Reid.
Nineteen Democrats also wrote a letter to Vice-President Joe Biden saying they would oppose any efforts to deny Planned Parenthood funds. They contended that the amendment would not help the deficit or add jobs, because clinics would have to shut down and lay off workers.
“It would instead effectively shut down health centers that serve three million women each year and provide nearly one million lifesaving screenings for cervical cancer, more than 830,000 breast exams and nearly four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV,” wrote the Senators.
Pro-life advocates have pointed out that while government funds do not directly subsidize Planned Parenthood’s abortion business, they do end up supporting the company’s bottom-line and profit-margins, freeing up financial resources that would have been spent elsewhere.
A Democrats for Life email message sent from executive director Kristan Day, criticized Senate Democrats for staking the operations of the federal government on Planned Parenthood. The pro-life group backs the GOP efforts to include the Pence amendment in the long-term CR.
“Democratic Party should not lead the charge to save federal funding for the abortion giant and instead focus on protecting those organizations that provide much needed services to the poor,” said the email from the organization.
Democrats for Life noted that Planned Parenthood has an estimated $1 billion in assets, and in 2008 alone received $349.6 million in federal money. Planned Parenthood of New York, they noted, had “$2.6 million in savings and temporary cash investments, $67 million in publicly traded securities and other assets, their total assets equaled $92 million in 2008.”
“The truth is Planned Parenthood and its abortion business will thrive without federal funding and without a Political Party advancing its agenda to keep abortion legal. It is the time for the Democratic leadership to end its relationship with the abortion industry and focus its mission on the core of the progressive agenda which is economic and social fairness for all.”