Friday, September 25, 2015

80% chance of GOP causing a costly government shutdown

That's the likelihood of the GOP members of the House causing a shutdown over the attempt to defund Planned Parenthood (PP) according to Steve Benen at the Rachel Maddow Show. Never mind that PP will not be defunded. They already have the grants and their federal funding is not for abortions anyway. Never mind that the last time they pulled this shutdown stunt it cost billions and many lost jobs. The fact is that a group of hardline, right-wing Republican congressmen are out to have a fight with Senate Democrats and the President. And time is running out.

[As I wrote yesterday:] Eleven House Republican freshmen wrote a letter to their colleagues yesterday, urging them not to shut down the government next week. "[W]e were elected by our constituent’s to be principled, pragmatic leaders," their letter said.

AZ CD2 Rep. Martha McSally was one of those GOP freshmen signing that letter. But ...

Practically speaking, however, a letter from 11 freshmen doesn’t amount to much, especially against a 42-member House Freedom Caucus, which is itching for a fight.

So, what happens now? Current funding expires on Wednesday, which is now just six days away. With this deadline looming, one might assume that lawmakers are scrambling, running from office to office, holding frantic meetings looking for a solution to resolve this mess. But conditions on the Hill aren’t nearly that frantic. GOP leaders have an outline of a plan, though no one seems to have any idea whether the plan will work.

Why is there doubt about the plan? Among other things, true to form Sen. Ted Cruz is likely to gum up any plan to get a clean continuing resolution passed. For more on the plan and its difficulties, see Benen's report.

The NY Times editorial board sums it up pretty well.

Abortions are a small part of Planned Parenthood’s services and tissue donation a very small part. No federal money is spent on abortions at Planned Parenthood; most of its services are for contraception, health screenings, pregnancy tests and prenatal care for low-income women.

The Republican obsession with the group seems to come to this: denying women, especially poor women, the health care they need; pandering for primary votes among Tea Party regulars; and obstructing the budget process and the smooth functioning of government. Quite a record.

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