The PJ Tatler

The Campaign Overtones of Today's Senate Vote to Defund Planned Parenthood

There have been seven standalone bills introduced in Congress since mid-July filed in response to a series of undercover Planned Parenthood videos, and the Senate will be taking a crack at one of them this afternoon.

But two Republicans running for president aren’t necessarily unified in how they want to bring about that defunding.

The bill being considered today, S.1881, was introduced July 28 by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). It has 44 co-sponsors. It’s short: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no Federal funds may be made available to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, or to any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, or clinics.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced his bill to strip funding for Planned Parenthood on July 24. It has four co-sponsors: Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.). It reads: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no Federal funds may be made available to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, or to any of its affiliates.”

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) introduced a defunding bill on July 22, stating: “For the one-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act, subject to subsection (b), no funds authorized or appropriated by Federal law may be made available for any purpose to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., or any affiliate or clinic of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., unless such entities certify that Planned Parenthood Federation of America affiliates and clinics will not perform, and will not provide any funds to any other entity that performs, an abortion during such period.” Subsection (b) allows exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

Paul and Lankford then joined with Ernst on her bill.

Another bill by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) would require Attorney General Loretta Lynch to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Planned Parenthood for organ trafficking.

Three House bills — from Reps. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) and David Jolly (R-Fla.) — seek to defund Planned Parenthood. Black’s legislation has the largest number of co-sponsors, 163.

Paul tweeted Sunday that he believes “just a handful of votes will decide the fate my bill to defund Planned Parenthood tomorrow.”

“If my colleagues would rather stand with Planned Parenthood than the American people, they’ll pay a severe political price,” he added.

That was followed by tweets this morning asking supporters to “help flood Capitol Hill with phone calls urging Senators to strip Planned Parenthood of every last dime of taxpayer funding.”

“After you call your Senators, please chip in a contribution of $20.16 today,” the presidential candidate added.

Paul told CNN on Sunday that “even a lot of pro-choice people are upset by these videos.”

“They, you know, manipulating the baby, turning the baby around to get the body parts and then selling the liver and the doctors cavalierly saying, oh, well, yes, liver is popular right now for sale, I think most Americans don’t want their tax dollars going to this,” he said. “So, I think when something is so morally repugnant to so many people, why should tax dollars go to this?”

“…It would be much less emotional for everyone if we just funded community health centers and didn’t fund Planned Parenthood.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is also a co-sponsor on the Ernst bill, but told Politico that today’s roll call will be just a “legislative show vote.”

“We should not demand an empty show vote, just one of the things leadership occasionally likes, to tee up a vote that is designed to fail, to then pat people on the head and say, ‘you should be happy you got a vote,'” Cruz told a pro-life rally last week.

Asked if he would employ the same tactic he used in 2013 to try to defund Obamacare — shutting down the government by blocking a spending bill that needs to pass by Sept. 30 — Cruz told Politico he “would support any and all legislative efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.”

“I don’t think you start out with your objective to shut down government,” Paul told CNN. “I mean, if President Obama wants to shut down government because he doesn’t get funds for Planned Parenthood, that would be President Obama’s determination to shut down government.”

“But, you know, it’s always a pointing-fingers battle, and it is the obligation of Congress, the power of the purse,” he added. “That’s an obligation of Congress, to determine how money is spent.”