There’s no reason to expect last week’s shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood facility will alter the Senate’s effort to block funding to the organization this week.
Republican leadership had long planned to include language blocking federal Medicaid and family planning dollars from flowing to health care organizations that provide abortions as part of a budget reconciliation package that also curtails the 2010 health care overhaul. Senior Republican aides said there is no plan to change course.
But the shooting that left three dead in Colorado Springs gives abortion rights supporters another way to criticize Republican opponents of the procedure.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said in a statement Friday that the House should discontinue a select committee investigating Planned Parenthood’s operations after the latest violence.
“It is time to finally get guns out of the hands of those who should not have them. And it is time to stop the demonizing and witch hunts against Planned Parenthood, its staff and patients and the life-saving health care it provides to millions every day,” Boxer said.
Democrats seem sure to sound similar themes if, as anticipated, the reconciliation bill advances to the Senate floor this week with the defunding language. A final substitute is expected to be prepared in time to be reviewed by the Senate parliamentarian’s office on Tuesday.
GOP leaders will gauge support for the overall package on Monday, when Republican senators return from their Thanksgiving break. The plan is designed to curtail the Affordable Care Act as much as possible through the notoriously clunky budget reconciliation process — and to force President Barack Obama to use his veto pen.
Democrats used the reconciliation process to enact a side-car bill to implement the health care law in 2010, after a special election in Massachusetts brought Republican Scott P. Brown to the chamber and took away the Democratic super majority.
In a bit of a coincidence, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will be spending Monday evening at an event dubbed as Brown’s “No BS” backyard BBQ in New Hampshire, as Rubio continues his presidential campaign. Fellow presidential hopeful Ted Cruz of Texas is holding events across Iowa on Monday.
Campaigning is one way for the presidential hopefuls to avoid efforts to cajole them into supporting the reconciliation package, with is expected to be discussed by the GOP conference Monday evening after first votes. Cruz, Rubio and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah had signaled opposition to a House reconciliation bill, saying it falls short of a full repeal of Obamacare. While leaders have been optimistic a bill will advance, it could be a needle-threading vote.
Assuming lawmakers agree to proceed to the bill (which would require a simple majority vote) the budget law governing the reconciliation process provides for 20 hours of debate, followed by what’s effectively a limitless number of amendments on the subject matter at hand — the infamous “vote-a-rama.”
That means Republicans, especially those running for the White House, could tinker with the reconciliation plan on the Senate floor while Democrats could seek to make changes such as striking the Planned Parenthood defunding language. As with the bill itself, though, those amendments must be scrubbed to comply with the narrow rules to get a chance at a simple-majority vote.
Paul M. Krawzak contributed to this report.
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