The lead Republican sponsor of a House bill to temporarily halt federal funding to Planned Parenthood attacked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday for his failure to fight on the issue.
“You don’t put up a white flag until you’ve fought the battle,” Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., told talk-radio host Dana Loesch. “We haven’t fought the battle yet, so when we pass this in the House, I fully intend on calling upon the leader of the Senate, Mr. McConnell, to bring this bill up.”
Black, however, is willing to go only so far herself. In a statement provided to The Daily Signal, her spokesman said she wouldn’t risk a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood.
“Congressman Black’s goal is to shut down Planned Parenthood, not the federal government,” said spokesman Jonathan Frank. “She has always said that she supports attaching Planned Parenthood defunding language to a continuing resolution or other must-pass legislation, but that if the president vetoes such a measure we must be prepared to act quickly to move this fight forward while avoiding a government shutdown—which does not defund Planned Parenthood and would only embolden our radically pro-abortion president.”
President Barack Obama has already declared that he would veto a bill that ends federal funding to Planned Parenthood, forcing the government to shut down after the federal fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.
McConnell has indicated that using the continuing resolution to defund Planned Parenthood is a losing fight in the Senate.
“You don’t put up a white flag until you’ve fought the battle,” says @RepDianeBlack
“The cold hard reality for those who don’t support Planned Parenthood is that we need a president who has a similar view and would sign our bill,” McConnell said Wednesday.
Black’s bill, the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015 (H.R. 3134), has the support of 178 cosponsors in the House and Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. It would halt all federal funding of Planned Parenthood for one year to allow Congress to investigate allegations that the nation’s largest abortion provider engaged in illegal activity.
The debate over Planned Parenthood’s federal funding stems from a series of undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress that show high-ranking officials discussing the alleged sale of fetal tissue and body parts of aborted babies.
Conservatives want to end all taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood; one of the preferred tactics is a full-year continuing resolution (through Sept. 30, 2016) that defunds the organization and its affiliates.
House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., floated the idea of using a tool known as budget reconciliation to accomplish the defunding goal—an idea that Black also supports.
“Congressman Black also supports using the reconciliation tool, which could put legislation on the president’s desk with the support of a simple majority in the Senate,” Frank told The Daily Signal.
Conservative criticized the reconciliation approach as both unwise politically and contrary to what the budget tool is intended to do.
“In the conference agreement, they clearly state that the point of reconciliation is to provide a path for Congress to repeal Obamacare, and that’s it,” said Paul Winfree, director of the Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation and former Senate Budget Committee staffer. “If they add Planned Parenthood to the reconciliation bill, then it’s going to essentially open up the flood gates so everyone’s pet project is added to reconciliation.”
In her interview on “The Dana Show” Wednesday, Black said she wouldn’t give up and urged McConnell to take action now.
“I’m going to beat the drum and let everyone know that I believe he at least needs to fight the fight. He doesn’t need to give up the battle,” she said. “I think it needs to get full debate over there. It needs to get a vote. … It needs to be put on the president’s desk. Let’s show who [Obama] really is. Let’s show how much he loves Planned Parenthood and how little value he has for the human life.”
When asked about her criticism of McConnell and Black’s own unwillingness to risk a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood, her spokesman told The Daily Signal:
“Rep. Black will continue this effort until it is defunded, just like she did as a state legislator in Tennessee—where she led the pro-life community to victory. But, as in Tennessee, we know that we must be engaged in this fight for the long-haul and we must reach hearts and minds with the truth about abortion—which is not helped by a government shutdown. Such a scenario risks diluting this important message to those who need to hear it most.”