Planned Parenthood, Alabama in Court Over Medicaid Money

23 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Government-shutdown threats over Planned Parenthood also reflect a dysfunctional Washington: editorial.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats thwarted a Republican effort to ban late-term abortions on Tuesday as GOP leaders strained to avoid a government shutdown in eight days over the dispute — all against a tangled backdrop of presidential politics.Senate Republican leaders set up a test vote for Thursday that could be the first step toward avoiding a U.S. government shutdown when funding runs out Sept. 30.

Senate Democrats blocked Republican legislation Tuesday that would prohibit most late-term abortions, the second time since this summer’s release of videos involving Planned Parenthood that they’ve derailed an abortion-related drive by the GOP.As supporters of Planned Parenthood looks for seats, Melissa Ohden, center, pro-life supporter from Gladstone, Mo., waits to testify before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 9 examining the abortion practices of Planned Parenthood. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Associated Press) In 2013, the Republican Party took a major hit in public opinion when GOP ideologues unwilling to pass a budget that included continued funding for Obamacare pushed the nation into a partial federal shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he will seek the vote on a measure to keep the government operating until Dec. 11 while stripping funds from Planned Parenthood for a year — as many conservative Republicans insist on doing. The family-planning organization has been under fierce attack since its officials were shown on secretly-recorded videos discussing the costs involved in collecting tissue from aborted fetuses to be donated for scientific research.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of federal workers were furloughed — many for more than two weeks — and pay was cut to U.S. service members serving overseas in war zones. McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, wouldn’t say what the Senate would do next, but Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said the only alternative will be to offer a stopgap spending bill that leaves Planned Parenthood funds untouched. That plan would win the support of Democrats. “If he’s not going to do that, I have no idea what he’s trying next,” Reid of Nevada told reporters.

With federal funds set to expire Sept. 30, “he better move to a clean CR,” he said, using shorthand for a short-term spending bill known as a continuing resolution. And yes, another part of the problem was that President Barack Obama was not the type of deal-maker who’d wade into the congressional political mire to knock heads together and get a compromise.

Yet both men also faced uncompromising political factions who’d rather garner the ink of absolutism than participate in efforts to find the middle ground. Contributing to the brinkmanship today is that the budget process itself has broken down; instead of passing individual spending bills for federal agencies, Congress winds up in gridlock until “continuing resolutions” adopted at the last minute keep the federal doors open.

Two years ago, after a budget deal was finally reached, the government reopened for business with Obamacare intact and Republicans taking the blame as obstructionists. The Senate voted 54-42 to move ahead on the legislation, but that fell six votes short of the 60 needed to crack a filibuster mostly led by Democrats. Congress is on a limited schedule this week, because of the historic visit by Pope Francis, as well as the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, but behind the scenes McConnell and his leadership team are working to keep his promise and avert next week’s looming shutdown. “We were sent here not to shut down the government, but to make the government operate to the benefit of taxpayers,” said Sen. Jim Jordan of Urbana is now pushing their party toward a similar clash, arguing they will not support federal spending if Congress doesn’t pull its funding for Planned Parenthood. “If President Obama and [U.S.

After Thursday’s vote, the Republican leader will then likely ask the Senate to approve a straight-forward stopgap funding bill, as soon as Saturday, without the Planned Parenthood provision, sources said. Ted Cruz of Texas, said Tuesday. “I’m tired of the people on my side of the aisle who have been pushing this strategy, even though they know they don’t have the votes,” said Sen. By having the Senate take the lead on a so-called “clean” spending measure, leaders would be trying to push past their conservative House GOP colleagues, who are expected to oppose such a compromise, and turn to Democrats for passage. “We’ll try to move something shortly, after the pope’s visit,” said Sen.

Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., up for re-election in a state Obama carried twice. “Therefore, they can’t answer the question, ‘What’s the endgame for success here?'” Ultimately, McConnell’s moves appeared aimed at delivering a temporary government-wide funding bill to the House, where abortion politics seems to have GOP leaders flummoxed. John Thune (R-N.D.), as he arrived at the Capitol on Tuesday. “We may have ball control on this.” The strategy is a familiar one, but not without its political and practical pitfalls. The Republican bill would set criminal penalties of up to five years in prison for doctors who perform most abortions 20 weeks or more into pregnancy.

McConnell’s spending measure would give the Obama administration much of what it asked for, while while saying no to a request to revive the Export-Import Bank. Editorials express the view of the editorial board of The Plain Dealer and Northeast Ohio Media Group — the senior leadership and editorial-writing staff.

Hanging over it all is the weakened political standing of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who is under fire from some tea party conservatives who say he is not tough enough in battling Obama. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a presidential candidate and sponsor of the legislation, said the U.S. is one of just seven countries allowing abortions after 20 weeks and said: “America needs to get out of this club.” Republicans hoped that simply allowing a vote on the bill — which Democrats would not allow when they controlled the Senate — would appeal to socially conservative voters and create campaign problems for Democratic senators from GOP-leaning states. Even though Boehner controls the majority, more than 30 lawmakers have said they would not agree to a compromise, depriving the speaker of needed votes — and forcing him to rely on Democrats to make up the difference.

By opposing the legislation and casting the battle as one over access to women’s health care, Democrats saw an opportunity to appeal to female and younger voters. Boehner has reached out before to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) to provide the votes needed to push tough legislation over the finish line, but this year he faces a challenge over his speakership by conservatives who have tried repeatedly to remove him from power. Chris Christie have called on Senate Republicans to change Senate rules to make it easier to move legislation past Democratic filibusters. “We appreciate all the good advice we’re getting from members of the House of Representatives and candidates for president about how to run the Senate,” McConnell said icily. “That will obviously be a decision we make ourselves.” Another issue, little noticed so far, is that delivery of food stamp benefits to the poor could be cut off next month. Tuesday’s vote came with Republicans trying to halt the $450 million in federal funding that goes yearly to Planned Parenthood, about a third of its overall budget. That has left the speaker in a no-win situation: Compromise with Pelosi and risk a challenge for his job, or stick with his weakened majority and risk a shutdown.

Meanwhile, Boehner himself has noted that three House committees are investigating whether Planned Parenthood violated any laws in its fetal tissue practices. Abortion foes say videos show Planned Parenthood has violated federal prohibitions against profiting from fetal tissue sales or changing some abortion procedures to maximize the harvesting of fetus organs.

Lawmakers’ focus on abortion intensified thanks to clandestinely recorded videos showing Planned Parenthood officials describing how they sometimes send fetal tissue to medical researchers. In Tuesday’s debate, McConnell described human features visible in fetal sonograms and said scientists say that fetuses can feel pain 20 weeks into development. Moreover, the threat of a veto from the White House has left conservatives to deride the antiabortion bills as show-votes that do little to accomplish their goals of ending the practices at Planned Parenthood. Democrats have noted that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said fetal pain is unlikely until a pregnancy’s third trimester. A Boehner loyalist, Representative Devin Nunes of California, said in an interview Monday that he and other House Republicans are urging Boehner to reject the hard-liners’ tactics.

In a fresh strategy floated last week, Republican leaders were considering using an obscure budget process, called reconciliation, that would allow measures to defund Planned Parenthood to pass by a simple majority in the Senate — a possible legislative route around the filibuster. The debate over Planned Parenthood, however, reflects a larger problem in Washington, D.C. – the failure to settle differences, be they over Planned Parenthood, the budget, immigration reform or the de-nuking of Iran.

Under the bill blocked Tuesday, late abortions would be allowed for pregnant women whose lives are endangered or who are victims of rapes for which they’ve received counseling or medical treatment. Doctors performing a permissible late-term abortion would have to try saving the fetus’ life if possible, including having a neonatal specialist present and hospitalizing the newborn.

Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill of Massachusetts was the Democratic speaker and Ronald Reagan the Republican president, they managed to do right by the American people despite their very different views on what was the right thing to do. They were able to govern productively on some of the big issues by embracing the fine art of the compromise. “Tip and the Gipper got a lot done, and the country benefited,” he wrote. “They marginalized the wingnuts of their parties and allowed compromise to happen.” Said O’Neill’s son, Thomas P. Forty-three states have barred abortions after specific stages of pregnancy, including 22 that do so after at least 20 weeks, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-rights research group. O’Neill III, in an opinion piece in The New York Times in 2012, “What both men deplored more than the other’s political philosophy was stalemate, and a country that was so polarized by ideology and party politics that it could not move forward.” To clear the way for progress, one necessary about-face is for Boehner to corral the ideologues in his party — or marginalize them, if necessary — rather than live in fear of how they might turn on their moderate brethren.

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