Do Cruz and the House Freedom Caucus have an end game?

Over the last few weeks, dozens of pro-life Republican Members of Congress have said they will not allow funding of Planned Parenthood to be included in a budget bill. These Members have articulately described why they don’t want to force taxpayers to fund the destruction of babies, and why certain leadership strategies are inherently flawed.

What they have yet to explain is how their strategy is actually going to work. Even when leadership suggested using reconciliation to get a defunding bill to President Obama’s desk, thereby at least getting Obama to publicly veto a bill that protects unborn babies from illegal fetal harvesting and illegal abortions, Cruz and the rest immediately assailed the effort as not good enough.

But using a Continuing Resolution won’t even get to Obama’s desk, thanks to Senate Democrats’ obsession with forcing taxpayers to fund abortion. And then the government will partially shut down, Planned Parenthood will get 80% of its current funding thanks to Medicaid, and the media will have all the excuse it needs to continue focusing on internal GOP fights instead of Planned Parenthood’s abhorrent practices.

So, again: What’s next, folks?

I asked this question to two GOP leadership offices, as well as the offices of two Members who support the Cruz strategy (which, like the 2013 Obamacare effort, appears more about promoting Cruz than solving any problems). None responded before this post went live, but one GOP aide did tell me that “a CR with defund won’t get to the president’s desk. Reconciliation will. So right there the needle is moved; the issue furthered.”

Likewise, another aide said “two years ago, the very same group of members went down this path without a strategy to win and later publicly admitted they made a mistake. If they want people to follow them again, they have a responsibility now to clearly define their endgame.”

One prominent critic of the reconciliation strategy did get back to me — Paul Winfree, the Director of the Thomas Roe Institute at The Heritage Foundation. When I said that a CR can’t touch mandatory spending (which is where Medicaid is qualified), he corrected me:

There hasn’t been an appropriations bill in recent memory that did not make some changes to mandatory programs.

A CR is an appropriations bill. For instance, pretty much all the recent appropriations bills have reduced S-CHIP bonus payments to states. Recent appropriations bills have also made sure money is available for TANF and SNAP after the authorizations for those programs expired.

Winfree’s colleague Sarah Torre wrote about this in August, saying that “unlike other entitlement spending, Congress actually funds the Medicaid program through the appropriations process each year.” She also pointed to the attachment of the Hyde Amendment to annual HHS appropriations.

But the question still remains — what’s next after Senate Democrats stop a CR, and the government partially shuts down? Planned Parenthood will get most of its funding, that’s what. And the GOP leadership (especially in the Senate) will have all the reason it wants to keep breaking campaign promises, and to continue punting on protecting the unborn from slaughter.