Published March 9, 2018 / Updated September 1, 2020
GOP Won’t Fund Government Without Defunding Planned Parenthood
Last-minute demand ignites fears of a March shutdown.
It seems that, lagging nearly 10-points behind in the general ballot for the November midterm, House Republicans are desperate for a wedge issue that will remind white, suburban evangelicals why they should vote for the party of the porn-star payoff. That issue is abortion.
Why does this matter?
In order to use abortion in the midterms, Republicans need voters to be talking and thinking about it in advance. Raising the subject now gives the issue nine months to gestate (*ahem*) prior to election day.
Of course, House members can give press conferences until they’re blue in the face and no one will pay attention. Directing the national media narrative requires a little more drama than that—enter the 2018 Labor-Health and Human Services funding measure.
The LHHS is a predictably contentious funding bill and it needs to get passed this month in order to keep the government open. Republicans are now demanding that the LHHS fully defund Planned Parenthood as a condition of passing the House. In so doing, they’re setting up a fight in the Senate over the issue.
A simple majority of House members can pass anything they please but, over in the Senate, the LHHS will need 60 votes to pass and that means it will need the support of nine Democrats. Finding nine Senate Democrats willing to defund Planned Parenthood is fairly unlikely, so the bill likely won’t pass the Senate.
That sets up a shutdown fight over Planned Parenthood and front-loads the abortion issue into the media cycle.
Of course this is all about the issue of abortion, not actual abortions. The Hyde Amendment, which was passed into law all the way back in 1976— back when Star Wars was still filming and the Concorde was making its maiden flight — specifically prohibits federal funds from going to abortion services.
Like all of the GOP’s attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, this amounts to spite: stripping the funds the organization uses to provide cancer screenings and birth control services because other, non-federal dollars fund the tiny portion of Planned Parenthood’s services which deal with abortion. In this case, the GOP wants to prevent Medicaid recipients from receiving services at Planned Parenthood.
Tell Congress What You Think
In celebration of International Women’s Day, take a few moments to tell your Representative and Senators what you think about defunding Planned Parenthood and risking a federal shutdown to do it. Text RESIST to 50409. Or, if SMS isn’t your style, you can contact your government by talking to Resistbot on Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or Twitter.