Showdown: 41 Senate Democrats vow to filibuster budget if it defunds Planned Parenthood

Boehner could probably get away with dropping the PP rider from the House budget bill if Reid was prepared to agree to a number close to $61 billion in cuts. But to meet roughly only halfway, at or around $33 billion, and still drop some of the red meat like defunding PP that the base craved? He’s burning the candle of grassroots credibility at both ends. Risky business.

Forty-one senators have pledged to filibuster any bipartisan spending bill that includes an amendment to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood, threatening an impasse with House conservatives.

The group, led by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), includes thirty-nine Democratic senators and two Independents, Sens. Joe Lieberman (Conn.) and Bernie Sanders (Vt.)…

The group outlined their opposition in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and GOP leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), asking Reid and McConnell to “stand with us against extreme proposals by some members of the House to eliminate support for women’s health and family planning programs and providers that service millions of women and families.”…

Reid has already declared the Planned Parenthood rider would not be part of a final deal with the House on 2011 spending levels.

Remember, Brown, Collins, and Murkowski also oppose defunding Planned Parenthood and there are surely other Democrats who didn’t sign Boxer’s letter who’ll vote with her if it comes to that. So realistically, there’s no way this is getting through the Senate. And needless to say, if he and Reid can agree on a budget in all major particulars, Boehner isn’t going to endanger that by threatening to force a government shutdown over an issue as narrow and hot button as abortion. So he has four options here. (1) Trade one red meat provision for another. If the GOP drops the Planned Parenthood rider, Democrats agree to defund NPR. Easy peasy! (2) Drop all the red meat stuff in exchange for deeper cuts. Boehner’s already insisting that $33 billion isn’t enough, so maybe that’s already in the works. (3) Split the riders off from the main budget bill, pass them separately in the House, and have Reid give them a separate up-or-down vote in the Senate. That would be Boehner’s way of showing the base that he’s bringing their concerns to the floor, but since the only leverage he has in getting them passed is leaving them attached to the main budget bill, splitting them off would be tantamount to dropping them altogether. (4) Start frantically downplaying the significance of this year’s budget, which is after all small potatoes, and soothe the base with reassurances about how epic Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget is going to be. Maybe have Ryan hold a presser at which he repeats, over and over in dulcet tones, “Four trillion. Four trillion. Four trillion…”

Exit question: Failure to defund PP = nifty fundraising tool for the NRSC among social conservatives next year?

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