Boehner plots shutdown move as critics weigh options

25 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Democratic-led filibuster stalls stopgap funding measure in Senate.

Washington — Democrats and several Republicans banded together on Thursday to block legislation to keep the government open over a contentious, GOP-led effort to strip Planned Parenthood of its taxpayer funding. WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate’s top Republican moved swiftly to avoid a government shutdown in six days, pushing legislation that would keep agencies operating without a contentious fight over money for Planned Parenthood.House Republicans, in a letter sent last month to the chairman of the House Committee on Health Care, said they wanted to investigate “whether Oregon’s tax dollars sent to Planned Parenthood and the body parts [from abortions] transferred are being used for legal purposes.” In the 2013-15 budget cycle, the state gave Planned Parenthood about $3.6 million, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Office. Of that, $1 million was for “pregnancy termination services.” Here’s how it works: Women who get insurance through the Oregon Health Plan are covered for a variety of medical procedures. Senate Republican leaders fully expected the legislation to fail and are now moving forward with their plan to consider a second spending bill that does not include the Planned Parenthood language and would fund the government at current spending levels through Dec. 11.

But they don’t cover abortions, leaving the state to pick up the tab. “It’s important for people to understand that Planned Parenthood is providing important medical care that people want, need, deserve,” said Mary Nolan, interim executive director for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon. “It’s care we’re happy to provide.” “We do not sell any fetal tissue,” she continued. “Our patients sometimes choose to donate the fetal tissue that results from their pregnancy, but neither our patients nor Planned Parenthood sells it.” Planned Parenthood has one partnership — with Oregon Health & Science University — to which it gives first-trimester placental issue for two scientific research projects related to still births and pregnancy complications. For weeks, many Republicans have vowed to punish Planned Parenthood following the release of secretly taped videos in which its officials discussed harvesting tissue from aborted fetuses. The White House signaled President Barack Obama would sign the measure, called a continuing resolution, into law — if the House steps aside from the fight tea party Republicans want over “defunding” Planned Parenthood. “I think we all know we’re going to have a clean CR,” said Sen. Republican Representative Martha McSally Of Arizona, one of the lawmakers who signed the letter, told Reuters there should be “thoughtful investigations” of allegations against Planned Parenthood.

But on Thursday Cruz said the “timing is inconsequential” when it comes to a vote on proceeding to a clean CR, suggesting he won’t force a weekend cloture vote. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who is using his rivalry with GOP leaders in Washington to help define his presidential campaign, responded in an editorial essay in Politico that simply the threat of a shutdown was sending “Republican leadership running for the hills.” Sending such a measure to the GOP-controlled House just a day or two before a potential shutdown seems aimed at giving Republican leaders in the House the push needed to roll over recalcitrant tea partyers opposed to a bill that fails to take on Planned Parenthood. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Eleven GOP House freshmen — several facing difficult re-election races next year in Democratic-leaning districts — say they oppose a shutdown confrontation.

Once the Senate completes its work, the bill would then be sent — likely on Monday — to the House where Speaker John Bohener (R-Ohio) will have just days to act before a shutdown begins on Oct. 1. Ryan Costello promises to “avoid repeating the mistakes of the past,” a reference to the GOP-sparked 2013 shutdown over implementation of the health care law.

Conservative hard-liners including Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, were summoned to Boehner’s suite but would not comment on his plans. Ken Buck of Colorado and Jody Hice and Barry Loudermilk of Georgia, have signed on to a more confrontational strategy, along with prominent conservatives like Reps.

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