The Senate is expected to vote Monday on S. 1881, a bill to “defund Planned Parenthood,” i.e. take away $528 million in federal funding from the non-profit on the strength of some sketchy videos from some sketchy folks. And if they don’t manage to defund PP, GOP senators are more than happy to shut down the government. Again. Led by Senator Ted Cruz. Again.
Back in October 2013, working with his good friends the Koch brothers, Cruz was instrumental in shutting down the government as part of a broader hissy fit over the Affordable Care Act. And now a tactic that once seemed unacceptably extreme is just a thing he and fellow GOP senators are willing to do over and over and over again if they don’t get their way: Politico reported Thursday that Cruz and 18 other senators, including S. 1881 bill sponsor Joni Ernst, sent a letter to the House saying they’ll refuse to pass any funding bill — i.e. a budget — “that contains any funding for Planned Parenthood.”
The budget expires October 1. Senate Democrats are not going to vote to defund Planned Parenthood. President Obama is likely not going to sign a budget that defunds Planned Parenthood. You see where this is going.
The Week’s Paul Waldman argues that the GOP won’t try to shut down the government again, because they “can’t get enough public support” for the idea and because in the case of the ACA in 2013, it didn’t work. This argument presumes that Ted Cruz et. al. make their decisions based on a sane and rational set of considerations.
On Sunday, Senator Rand Paul struck what will probably be considered the Republican “middle ground” on shutting down the government, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper, “I support any legislation that will defund Planned Parenthood. But I don’t think you start out with your objective to shut down government.”
Paul, along with Ernst and Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, another supporter of the bill, wrote an editorial for Time today arguing that the defunding measure is necessary because abortion bad:
If they are human organs outside of the womb, they had to be human inside the womb. It is disingenuous for Planned Parenthood to say in one moment that it is just fetal tissue, but in another moment acknowledge that it is human baby organs to be harvested and sold for medical research. Children in the womb are still children.
Those sound like the words of people willing to consider a compromise to keep the government functioning. For sure.
Correction: An earlier version of this piece referred to Planned Parenthood’s federal funding as entirely Title X family planning funds. Planned Parenthood says the majority of its federal funding actually comes from reimbursements for providing care to Medicaid payments, while a smaller portion comes from Title X. I regret the error.
Rand Paul speaks at a press conference on defunding Planned Parenthood, flanked by Sens. John Cornyn of Texas, left, and John Thune of South Dakota, right. Photo via AP Images