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Heritage Action Dismisses Scalise’s Planned Parenthood Strategy

Scalise made it official, he's running for majority leader. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Scalise made it official, he's running for majority leader. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Heritage Action for America is not impressed with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s proposal to address conservatives’ opposition to Planned Parenthood through a budget reconciliation process instead of a continuing resolution.  

The conservative advocacy group that helped spur the 2013 government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act is, two years later, demanding lawmakers draw a firm line in the sand a second time, insisting members use a “must-pass” bill like a CR as the vehicle for defunding the network of health services and abortion providers. Heritage Action spokesman Dan Holler released the following statement Wednesday morning:

“Between now and the inauguration of the next president, Planned Parenthood will carry out more than 440,000 abortions. The objective is not simply ‘to get a bill on President Obama’s desk.’ The primary objective is to defund this organization. Pro-life members should not be asked to cast a vote for a bill that sends money to Planned Parenthood.”

Scalise, R-La., told CQ Roll on Tuesday in an exclusive phone interview that he wanted to use the process of budget reconciliation to strip funding from Planned Parenthood, which is under scrutiny after the release of a series of undercover videos in which organization officials discuss the harvesting of fetal tissue.  

The No. 3 House Republican explained a reconciliation bill cannot be filibustered in the Senate, thereby ensuring passage by a simple majority of the chamber’s GOP. Most other controversial measures coming before the Senate under standard rules and procedure need to clear a 60-vote threshold, which has stymied Republicans time and again. That outcome is certain to transpire for any spending bill that includes a policy rider stripping out money for Planned Parenthood.  

“If one of the objectives is to get a bill on President Obama’s desk that defunds Planned Parenthood, then budget reconciliation is the one way to ensure that happens. This is the most sure-fire way,” Scalise told CQ Roll Call.  

Scalise deflected when asked directly whether his reconciliation strategy was intended to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1, saying only that House Republicans would continue to keep the pressure on Planned Parenthood as more of the undercover videos are released.  

The House will vote on two stand-alone bills this week to hamper the organization, which Republican leaders hope will be enough to satisfy their base on and off Capitol Hill.  

Those who don’t want to tie Planned Parenthood defunding to a government spending bill got some good news Wednesday morning. In spite of Heritage Action’s stern warning to members, the National Right to Life Committee is on their side.

“Quite frankly, I think Planned Parenthood is a vile organization, and I resent the fact that they get any tax money,” NRLC president Carol Tobias told The New York Times. “But realistically, with President Obama in the White House holding that veto pen, I don’t know that any government shutdown could accomplish what we want. What we have to do is get a new pro-life president in, and we’d have a much better chance of actually taking away their money.”

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