More Ryan: Wait for reconciliation to go after Planned Parenthood

What happened to defunding Planned Parenthood? My earlier post on Paul Ryan’s interview with Hugh Hewitt didn’t cover Ryan’s explanation, but it’s worth noting separately. Among the constituencies disappointed in the budget deal, none may have groaned louder than pro-life groups. Republicans have long promised to defund Planned Parenthood as soon as they got full control of the budget process, and Donald Trump more or less went along with that pledge. (Sometimes less than more.)  Republicans and Trump managed to pass a bill in March that allows states to decide whether to make Planned Parenthood eligible for Medicaid funding, but the new budget agreement kept the money flowing to the nation’s largest abortion chain.

In this interview, Ryan told Hugh that the 60-vote threshold in the Senate made defunding Planned Parenthood impossible. Instead, pro-life groups should keep their eyes fixed on the reconciliation process:

HH: All right, let’s talk about the issue of life and the issue of choice in schools, because again, the omnibus went to both of those issues, and there’s been criticism that Planned Parenthood wasn’t defunded.

PR: Well, so first of all, there’s no funding for Planned Parenthood in this bill. This keeps all our pro-life riders like the Hyde Amendment and the Kemp-Kasten language which people who are pro-life know what I’m talking about. And I’ll just paraphrase the pro-life groups like Right to Life, like the folks who have been working on this for years and years and years, which is do that in reconciliation, because you have to remember one thing. This appropriations bill, all appropriation bills require 60 votes in the Senate. That’s their rules, not ours in the House, which means they have to be bipartisan. Reconciliation bills do not have to be bipartisan. You can pass them with 51 votes. And so that is why the pro-life movement rightfully says the right way to go after Planned Parenthood and advance the pro-life cause is in reconciliation. That is why it is in our health care bill.

Hmmmm. Reconciliation in this case could theoretically either mean the ObamaCare repeal or tax reform. A rider could get attached to either or both without fear of Democratic filibusters. The problem is that the outlook for both is not terribly optimistic. So far, the House can’t get a simple majority for the AHCA, and the Senate is likely to completely rewrite it even if the House manages to finally pass it. Will moderates like Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and others stick by the bill if it carries a defunding rider? Having 52 votes makes even reconciliation a treacherous path.

As for Ryan’s claim that no funding for Planned Parenthood exists in the bill, that’s not really true. That funding comes from Title IX spending for family planning access to low-income women, an effort that remains entirely uncontroversial except for its back-door funding for the nation’s leading abortion mill. Ryan’s correct in that there are no “set-asides” that send funds directly to Planned Parenthood, but they still have the same access to hundreds of millions of federal dollars they always have had, claiming that it goes to “women’s health.”

Live Action has a new video out this week showing just how disingenuous that argument actually is:

Pro-abortion members of Congress have been telling the American people for years that Planned Parenthood desperately needs hundreds of millions in taxpayer funding to provide health services like prenatal care and mammograms. But Live Action investigators posing as pregnant women have contacted Planned Parenthood and can’t find the health care politicians had promised them.

Live Action’s latest video features politicians like Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Hillary Clinton, and Rep. Joe Kennedy misleading the American people about the services their tax dollars are funding at Planned Parenthood. …

Last week, Live Action released another video investigation analyzing Planned Parenthood’s own annual reports for the last 10 years that showed services like breast exams and Pap tests down 60 and 77 percent, respectively, while abortions are up 27 percent and taxpayer funding has more than doubled to $553 million in a year. Client numbers have also declined from three million in 2011 to 2.5 million in 2017, despite the increase in tax funding.

“The fact that Planned Parenthood’s clients are decreasing and its cancer screenings are down by large numbers while abortions are up 27 percent is more evidence that the corporation’s focus is abortion, not women’s health care,” Rose said.

It’s not about “health care.” Their entire business model is oriented toward abortions, despite all of the misleading claims about the provision of pre-natal care. The federal dollars going to Planned Parenthood should go to clinics that actually do provide pre-natal care, mammograms, and Pap screenings.