Boehner Maps Planned Parenthood De-Funding Strategy

National   Steven Ertelt   Feb 28, 2011   |   11:29AM    Washington, DC

In a new interview, Speaker John Boehner talked about the upcoming strategy behind the next steps in the battle to de-fund Planned Parenthood and he urged pro-life advocates to be patient.

The House of Representatives approved an amendment Congressman Mike Pence offered to the continuing resolution bill to keep the federal government running. The amendment ensures the Planned Parenthood abortion business and its affiliates are not eligible for any federal taxpayer dollars across any federal programs or departments.

Although the House voted by a strong margin to de-fund Planned Parenthood, the next steps are more tenuous. The battle to yank federal funding is complicated by the fact that Senate Leader Harry Reid and his pro-abortion Democratic colleagues control the Senate agenda and pro-abortion President Barack Obama occupies the White House. It is also complicated by the fact that Congress must approve two continuing resolution bills — one that funds the federal government in the short-term before a deadline results in a government shutdown and another that funds the federal government for another year.

David Brody, the Chief Political Correspondent for CBN News, talked with Boehner about the prospects, and asked: “Can you commit to them that (defunding Planned Parenthood) will stay in the CR no matter what?”

“The continuing resolution passed 10 days ago did in fact defund Planned Parenthood and that bill has gone over to the United States Senate,” Boehner responded. “They, like the House, were out last week. What they’ll do with that bill, I have no idea.”

Boehner said that pressing for de-funding Planned Parenthood in the short-term continuing resolution doesn’t make sense.

“In the short term CR though, our focus is on cutting spending and making sure that we keep the government open. In order to get this through the House and through the Senate and signed by the president by March 4th, we’re not going to take any big chances on the fact that they’re looking for an excuse to shut down the government,” he said. “Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer they’ve been rooting for a government shutdown. We do not want to give them an excuse to do that.”

Boehner told CBN that the long-term continuing resolution is the better place to fight for de-funding.

“I met with a lot of religious leaders earlier today to talk about the strategy and I think it’s important that we understand that what we want to do here is win the war not just win a battle and there will be an opportunity sometime in order to win the big war and we’re looking for that opportunity,” he said. “I don’t think this short term CR is the opportunity that will get us there.”

“There are a lot of options on the table, but I don’t think in the short term CR this is the opportunity we’re looking for,” he concluded.

The strategy of getting Planned Parenthood de-funding and other provisions cutting taxpayer funding of abortions — such as prohibiting abortion funding in the District of Columbia — worries one pro-life legislative strategist.

“Republican leadership has crafted a two week continuing resolution (CR) that includes a number of cuts that President Obama has advocated for,” says Tom McClusky, head of government relations for the Family Research Council. “What it does not include is a restoration of the policy that protects taxpayers for paying for abortions in the District of Columbia as well as a stoppage of funds to troubled abortion giant Planned Parenthood.”

“While leadership argues they don’t want to make “controversial” moves in the temporary CR — for they are afraid that it will upset the President and they will be blamed for any government shut down — this tactic is something even former Speaker Newt Gingrich disagrees with,” he said. “The problem for many pro-lifers is the longer this temporary CR gets extended the more abortions in DC we will be paying for, as well as the less likely it will be in a final version.”

McClusky also commented on the idea of “winning the war and not just the battle” that Boehner advanced: “However, if that is the case why surrender before the first volley is fired?”

“The record of Planned Parenthood is much more heinous then that of ACORN, yet there was no problem defunding ACORN temporarily in a CR,” he added. ” If the Democrats want to stick up for an organization that is complicit in hiding cases of statutory rape, sex trafficking as well as fiscal malfeasance – that is up to them.  If the Democrats want to explain how taxpayers aren’t paying for abortion in DC (they are) then that is up to them. Unfortunately they are being given cover by the Republicans.”

This discussion of the best legislative strategy to secure de-funding of Planned Parenthood comes on the heels of a letter a few dozen pro-life advocates sent Boehner asking him to fight for the Pence Amendment.

“However, the House vote on the Pence Amendment is nothing more than symbolic unless it remains intact through the legislative process. Defunding Planned Parenthood must be a non-negotiable in the Continuing Resolution and we urge you to accept nothing less than this outcome,” the letter said.