GOP Senate cuts it close on initial vote to defund Planned Parenthood

The United States Senate is the world’s greatest deliberative body, according to the United States Senate.

Like some power-mad PTA, the Senate has over time established the world’s greatest set of arcane rules governing its operations. The 100-member body of arcanely rich people must, for instance, at times get 60 votes to confirm people to certain offices.


We’re about to see that “rule” nuked again so Republicans can confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court with only their 52 members. Democrat boss Harry Reid pulled the same “Senate rules apply until they don’t apply” stunt to confirm Barack Obama’s District Court appointees.

The Senate also often has a vote to decide if it can have a vote. Anything to get more time on C-SPAN.

That’s what happened Thursday when the Senate was voting whether it could vote on a provision that would, in effect, allow funds to healthcare providers to be cut off for reasons other than providing poor healthcare. Think Planned Parenthood and its abortion program.

Carrying on an emerging congressional tradition of 2017, two Republican squish suspects — Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski — abandoned their party. That would have left the tie-breaking vote up to its president, Vice President Mike Pence, a long-time PP foe.

So, Mitch McConnell’s minions fetched Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson out of back-surgery rehab.

“I’m in the fifth week of about a 12-week rehab from my spinal surgery,” Isakson said. “I want to start getting all my routines back to normal. So I called and told them I thought I could be back this week. And if I could vote, I’d like to vote.”


The Senate stalled until Isakson could hobble into the chamber on a walker. And just to be safe, the GOP also summoned Pence from listening at another Trump listening session at the White House. It worked.

But don’t worry. The Senate won’t need any arcane vote-maneuvering over its two-week vacation coming in April. That’s a bipartisan gimme. And the one in summer and the one in fall and, well, you get the point. Your tax dollars at work.

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John Sexton 8:40 PM on September 21, 2023