Once again Planned Parenthood is a political football in the health care arena. Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) reports how Planned Parenthood funding creates key challenge for Senate GOP.
About a week ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that Senate Republicans plan to “strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood … and add several other abortion restrictions” to their still-secret health care bill. That may not sound especially surprising, given much of the GOP’s fierce opposition to the group in recent years.
It does, however, create a challenge for Republican leaders, who have precious few votes to spare in this endeavor. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), for example, recently said, “It’s not the only issue in this huge bill, but I certainly think it’s not fair and it is a mistake to defund Planned Parenthood.”
She’s not the only one. Politico reported late Friday:
Sen. Lisa Murkowski has assured an Alaska constituent that she’s committed to preserving Planned Parenthood funding as part of a health care bill – the strongest line she’s drawn yet over one of the most controversial elements of the Obamacare repeal effort.
“I am committed to ensuring that important provisions of the ACA, such as covering those with pre-existing conditions, continued support for Medicaid expansion, coverage for dependents and no lifetime limits, and funding for Planned Parenthood remain intact,” Murkowski wrote in the constituent letter obtained by POLITICO.
Asked about the correspondence she signed, Murkowski reiterated to Politico that she still hasn’t seen her party’s secret bill, but added she’s a “strong proponent [of Planned Parenthood] and I will fight to keep the funding in. I can’t make promises or representations on bills that I don’t know the contents of. I guess I’d have to see. But I have been solid on Planned Parenthood. It’s all about access.”
If those two senators follow through then at best McConnell’s secret health bill would get 50 votes, only one shy of a defeat.
If even one other Republican – say, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Nev.), who’s raised concerns about the very idea of a system based on tax credits – balks, at that point, McConnell would be short of the votes he needs.
So it behooves each of us to make every effort to enlist at least one of our Arizona senators to join with Collins and Murkowski in opening up and slowing down the senate process. See the related post today from the alliance4action health care group on what you can do.