As if there weren’t enough drama surrounding the budget reconciliation bill, some conservative groups are intent on adding their own! Instead of accepting the fact that the Senate Parliamentarian has given the green light to the portion of the legislation defunding Planned Parenthood, some Republicans seem determined to change her mind.
For weeks, FRC and pro-family groups have fought to hold Cecile Richards’s group accountable in a bill that has the best chance of crossing the president’s desk. It cleared the procedural hurdles days ago, when the parliamentarian said the Planned Parenthood section did meet the expedited budget rules -- which are: a) that the provision is budgetary in nature; b) that the budget effect is not “merely incidental” to the policy but germane; and c) that it reduces spending in mandatory programs. Conservatives were ready to celebrate the development, only to bump up against other Republicans, who think the rest of the bill -- which includes a major rollback of ObamaCare -- has a better chance without it.
Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) put those rumors to rest by insisting that it was his intention to keep the Planned Parenthood language in the legislation. “We’re confident that the ObamaCare repeal bill … will contain a defund of Planned Parenthood,” McConnell told reporters. “We’ll be moving to that after Thanksgiving.” Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), who’d cast some doubts on that prospect earlier in the week, echoed the Majority Leader’s promise, saying, “We are going to proceed as the House passed the bill… Any suggestion that there’s some question about whether or not the Senate wants to follow through on the House bill is not right.”
That’s good news, because it gives conservatives the best shot at sending a partial defund to the president. FRC’s position is clear on this matter. We are 100% committed to ending taxpayers’ forced partnership with Planned Parenthood. We’ll fight to remove taxpayers from the abortion business on every spending bill -- but not at the expense of the current reconciliation opportunity. Unlike other approaches, this one gives pro-lifers a way to strip 80% of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding through mandatory programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and others -- and does so with 51 votes.
Could Congress put a similar provision on the omnibus spending package? Yes, and it should. But under regular order, it will take nine more votes (60) to pass it. Considering that there are only 54 Republicans (and not even all of them are pro-life), the odds of success in an omnibus are even slimmer. Does that mean we won’t try? Of course not. But the current strategy is the best one. And we applaud the GOP leadership for sticking with it, especially considering the snags along the way.
Despite all of the confusion over technical points and procedural rules, pro-life senators should support this path to the president’s desk. Doing so forces Obama to bear the moral responsibility for sending our tax dollars to a group that legitimizes baby butchery. Even if the president vetoes the bill, we’ve still succeeded -- because it sets a Senate precedent for moving a similar measure forward when America finally has a humane president. Now isn’t the time for bickering. Now is the time to rally together and support this effort -- and what it means for the greater good.