House GOP leadership: We'll vote to defund Planned Parenthood this fall

With each new release of undercover videos from Center for Medical Progress, political pressure has ramped up on Republican leadership in Congress to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Members of the House GOP caucus now say that a bill to at least stop funds for a year will be introduced after the recess, and leadership has committed to getting a floor vote on it:

House Republican leaders are planning a vote to freeze funding for Planned Parenthood this fall, according to GOP aides, a move that could help mitigate an inter-party battle and avoid a government shutdown.

“We’re encouraged to know there will be a vote this fall, whether it’s our bill or something that is similar,” a spokesman for Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) said Friday.

A bill to defund Planned Parenthood is expected to come up for a vote shortly after lawmakers return from recess, aides said. It would likely take the form of legislation from Black which would block federal funding to Planned Parenthood for one year, although leaders are still weighing their options.

The Hill’s Sarah Ferris calls this “a change of tune” for John Boehner, who wanted to wait for a Congressional investigation to finish before pushing a bill on defunding. Boehner feels that some Democrats may come with the GOP to cut off Planned Parenthood’s funding if the process played out to its conclusion. That’s certainly debatable — Democrats want to use this issue to revive the War on Women meme — but it may be why Black’s bill suspends funding for one year. That could be a compromise that will allow Congressional committees to continue their investigations. Don’t expect too many Democrats to buy that either, but it answers the demand coming from the rank and file to do something about Planned Parenthood.

Don’t expect a shutdown fight over it, though. Even Black doesn’t support that kind of a strategy, claiming that would invert the budget process:

“I’m not in the shut down government camp. That is not the way to get to the bottom of this issue, by shutting down the government,” the three-term lawmaker said. “It puts the president in charge instead of the legislature.”

A shutdown also wouldn’t cut off most of the federal funds that Planned Parenthood receives. It gets most of that cash through Medicaid reimbursements, which continue to operate as statutory entitlements even when shutdowns occur. (The same is true for Social Security and Medicare; expenditures for these entitlement programs are authorized by statute and not budget appropriations.) The rest of the funding comes from Title X family-planning programs for low-income women, which is appropriated and can be spent under conditions set by Congress in each budget year. Congress can do more through legislation to curtail all of it, or force Obama to veto it and explain why the federal government is funding a private enterprise that conducts organ harvesting for income.

Ferris says that the strategy on this effort won’t be fully set until after the recess. Let’s keep the pressure on.

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Jazz Shaw 3:01 PM on January 26, 2023