For years, a central pillar of the Republican platform has been defunding Planned Parenthood. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) gave the party another chance to follow through on its commitment to strip federal money from the abortion provider yesterday, but the GOP failed once again to rise to the occasion.
Sen. Paul offered an amendment to a “minibus appropriations package for Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education” that would have stripped federal funding from Planned Parenthood and other organizations that provide abortions. In a press release on his website, Sen. Paul said yesterday that Republican leadership was blocking a vote on the amendment. Later in the day, Paul took to the Senate floor to accuse Republicans of blocking his amendment, which is already included in the House version of the bill.
“Planned Parenthood ends the lives of 320,000 babies each year,” Paul said. “That’s about 900 babies every day. Planned Parenthood receives over $400 million of taxpayer money. The government, with a wink and a nod, tells us that Planned Parenthood doesn’t spend the money on abortion, but everybody knows that the taxpayer is really cross-subsidizing Planned Parenthood’s abortion mills.”
Last week, before Paul was able to add his amendment to the limited spaces on the “amendment tree” of the bill, the Washington Examiner reported that Republicans who were worried that the controversial amendment would kill the funding bill placed another amend the ent in the last slot that changed funding of a government program by $1.
“Its only purpose was to block Paul,” a Senate insider said.
After Paul attacked the Republican Senate leadership on the floor of the Senate, Republicans relented and allowed a vote on the amendment. Two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, joined Democrats to defeat the amendment by a vote of 45-48. Four Republicans (Corker, Cruz, Fischer, and McCain) and three Democrats (Hirono, Murray, and Schatz) did not vote.
With midterm prospects looking bleak, the vote may mark the last opportunity for Republicans to defund Planned Parenthood, but even if the amendment had passed defunding the group would have been a long shot. If the amendment had been added to the bill, Democrats would likely have filibustered the spending package since Republicans would have lacked the votes for cloture.
If Republicans really wanted to defund Planned Parenthood, it would be necessary to insert the measure in a budget reconciliation bill that cannot be filibustered. Even then, if Republican leaders cannot pressure Collins and Murkowski to stick with their GOP colleagues, the two rogue senators would be enough to defeat the measure since Democrats always vote in a bloc to protect the abortionists.
In the end, the appropriations bill passed with bipartisan support in an 85-7 vote. The various departments of the federal government will get their money. So will Planned Parenthood.
Originally published on The Resurgent