Push to De-Fund Planned Parenthood Now Moves to Senate

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 21, 2011   |   12:18PM   |   Washington, DC

With the House of Representatives having approved a budget amendment to revoke all taxpayer funding from the Planned Parenthood abortion business, the pro-life push now turns to the Senate — where the battle will be more difficult.

The Pence amendmentto de-fund Planned Parenthood was part of a House Republican designed continuing resolution that funds the federal government but it’s a funding bill the Senate will not likely approve, at least in its current form.

The current continuing resolution expires on March 4 and lawmakers in both parties are eager to avoid a government shutdown — and lawmakers may have to resort to a temporary continuing resolution to keep the federal government running until the House and Senate can negotiate a long-term funding bill.

House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan said over the weekend that Republicans would be negotiating a short and long-term spending bill.

“I don’t think the Senate will pass this cut,” Ryan said. “We will have to negotiate. Look, we’re not looking for a government shutdown. But at the same time we’re also not looking at rubber stamping these really high, elevated spending levels that Congress blew through the joint two years ago.”

Though he didn’t talk about Planned Parenthood funding, any change in its funding would probably not come in the short-term bill but would be something more likely seen in the long-term continuing resolution.

Meanwhile, several of the most vocal pro-abortion activists in the Senate have promised to block the Pence Amendment there, including  Sens. Barbara Boxer of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Al Franken of Minnesota, and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. Asked if they had the votes to block the de-funding measure in the Senate, Franken told The HIll, “Yes.”

Tom McClusky, the vice president for governmental relations at the Family Research Council, talked more about expectations for the next battle in the Senate, saying “the easy part is over.”

“The continuing resolution  needs to now be negotiated with the Senate and sent to the White House,” McClusky explains.  It is likely the form it takes will be different than what passed [in the House] so we need to continue to remind people, including our friends, that protecting life is not negotiable and if the Democrats want to shut down the government just to fund a criminal enterprise and a horrific act then so be it.”

“The continuing resolution is very likely the best if not only opportunity we will have this Congress to defund Planned Parenthood as stand alone efforts are not likely to happen in the current Senate,” he added. “And even if whatever ultimately passes includes the pro-life provisions we will need to work hard to pass legislation (such as H.R. 3 and Rep. Pence’s bill) that makes these changes permanent.”

Leading pro-life groups will continue to put pressure on senators and House leaders to approve a continuing resolution with the Planned Parenthood funding ban intact, and they will be mobilizing pro-life voters to contact senators urging them to do just that.

“Now that the House of Representatives has voted to defund Planned Parenthood, it is the Senate’s turn to do the same,” said Father Frank Pavone, the director of Priests for Life. “It is time for the people to make history and defy the notion that they cannot get the Senate to defund Planned Parenthood. It is time for our citizens to speak with an unprecedented, unified, and loud voice: No more money to the most corrupt organization in America.”

When the Senate does vote, it will have a huge impact on the 2012 elections — as the National Right to Life Committee notes “33 seats, 23 of them currently held by Democrats or independents who caucus with the Democrats, will be on next year’s general election ballot.”

“Now senators, too, will go on record on whether to push the snout of this bloated abortion mega-marketer, Planned Parenthood, out of the U.S. Treasury feeding trough,” said NRLC’s legislative director Doug Johnson. “Any differences that emerge between the House and Senate versions of the funding bill will become subjects for negotiations between the two houses, and with the White House.”

ACTION: Contact your senators at https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm and urge strong support for the House-approved continuing resolution, de-funding abortion, and de-funding Planned Parenthood.