House Speaker Paul Ryan resolved a significant if obscure mystery today by disclosing that congressional Republicans did indeed plan to prohibit federal funds for the non-abortion services of Planned Parenthood in the same budget reconciliation bill that will repeal the Affordable Care Act.
That news was not a big surprise since the reconciliation bill last year that served as a “trial run” for this effort included the Planned Parenthood “defunding” alongside an Obamacare repeal. These two pet causes for conservatives were, after all, big enough that many of them were willing to shut down the federal government or risk a debt default to achieve both of them in recent years.
But until Ryan spoke, it was not entirely a sure thing that the attack of Planned Parenthood had made the first cut as a congressional GOP target in the Trump Era. And you did have to wonder if Donald Trump’s own famous flip-flopping over Planned Parenthood was causing problems behind the scenes, leading to pressure on Ryan to show his cards.
Now that he has, the door could be wide open for Democrats to offer amendments to the budget resolution during the “vote-a-rama” in the Senate (a period of frantic back-to-back votes without debate on unlimited amendments that can happen on any budget resolution). Even if none of them pass, they will place Republican senators on the record with votes for or against protecting Obama’s most popular provisions, and if the effort gets some attention, could convince congressional Republican leaders to leave some of said items alone.
That won’t happen with respect to Planned Parenthood, given the many votes Republicans have already cast to kill federal funding for the organization. But if Democrats are smart they will force their Republican colleagues to vote against women’s health programs anyway.