September 21, 2017
Republicans certainly have a flair for the dramatic. With less than four working days to kill Obamacare, Senate hallways are already empty. With their repeal bill still hanging in the balance, members left town late Tuesday to mark the Jewish holidays -- adding even more suspense to next week's September 30th deadline. Even now, Republican leaders aren't sure where their party will land on the plan from Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.). Although the push seems to be gaining steam, the results are anything but certain -- as Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) reminded everyone the last time around.
One thing's for sure: it will be an anxious few days for Planned Parenthood. Apart from Barack Obama, Cecile Richards's group has the most to lose -- almost $400 million a year, to be exact. Like the string of reconciliation bills before it, the Graham-Cassidy measure guts 86 percent of the organization's Medicaid funding, putting a huge dent in the forced partnership between taxpayers and America's biggest abortion business. That should be a major motivating factor for dozens of pro-life senators, who understand that this is conservatives' best shot at ending the government's direct deposit to a scandal-ridden organization.
Even Planned Parenthood admits it performs more abortions (328,348 in 2015 alone) than basic breast exams. That's not difficult to believe since overall health screenings have dropped by half since 2011. Even contraception counseling, the group's bread-and-butter, fell by 136,244. So what, exactly, are taxpayers funding? Certainly not the "comprehensive care" Richards advertises. Or even the volume of care, since Planned Parenthood saw 100,000 fewer patients in 2015 than the year before.
Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to change Senator Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) mind. The Kentucky pro-lifer insists he won't vote for the Graham-Cassidy bill, despite the thousands of unborn lives it could save. That's frustrating position for plenty of conservatives to accept. Like a lot of pro-lifers, they think the GOP's concern for these children should outweigh the repeal's imperfections. Susan B. Anthony List blasted Paul for his "outright opposition to the bill, and his dismissiveness of the pro-life priorities within it is alarming and damaging." It is, they argue, an "unacceptable positon for a pro-life senator to have."
On Twitter, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) made the case for us, snapping a photo of all of the pro-life language in the bill. "These flags mark all the abortion restrictions in the Republican repeal of Obamacare," he tweeted. That can only help the GOP's cause, based on the support from both sides for more limits on Planned Parenthood's biggest moneymaker.
In a New York Magazine piece this week, liberals try to set the record straight on the real driving force behind the Graham-Cassidy bill. The motivation, Ed Kilgore points out, is:
"...generally assumed to be the potential fury of the GOP's conservative base if Republicans break their promise to repeal Obamacare. But there's another thing pushing them toward the abyss: One of the most powerful factions in the GOP and the conservative movement, the anti-abortion lobby, is backing Graham-Cassidy to the hilt. That's because, like every other GOP repeal-and-replace bill, it temporarily defunds Planned Parenthood" and aims to prevent use of federal insurance-purchasing tax subsidies for polices that include abortion coverage."
It's funny. One minute the media says the social conservative movement is dead -- the next, it's complaining we're too powerful. According to Democrats, it's the latter. Republicans are "scared to death of a promise they may not keep to the Republican primary base," Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said.
Let's hope so. This is a make or break moment for the GOP, as pollster John McLaughlin's report makes quite clear. Voters elected Republicans to keep their word on Obamacare -- seven years' worth of words, actually. This week, I am in Arizona speaking to supporters in Tucson and Phoenix, encouraging them to get their senators in line on the partial repeal of Obamacare. Join them by reaching out to yours -- before it's too late!
For more on the debate, check out Ken Blackwell's interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox Business Wednesday.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.