The United States House of Representatives passed a bill this afternoon defunding Planned Parenthood 248-187.
Three Republicans voted against the bill. They were: Representatives Charlie Dent (PA), Robert Dold (IL), and Richard Hanna (NY). Two Democrats voted for the bill. They were: Representatives Dan Lipinski (IL) and Collin Peterson (MN). Representative Steve King (R-IA) basically abstained by voting “present.”
According to Fox News, the bill would transfer monies that currently go to Planned Parenthood to what are called “government-backed community health centers.” This does not sound as if the bill moves the monies to local health departments. But I am not sure.
This is a critical first step in defunding Planned Parenthood. However, a successful effort at law-making must overcome two hurdles. First, it must garner 60 votes in the Senate to stop potential filibusters. Second, it must be able to overcome a presidential veto.
Based on the vote tally above, the House would not be able to override a veto.
A veto override requires the votes of 2/3 of the members of both the House and Senate. That means that the House is approximately 30 votes short of an override. When the Senate casted a vote on cloture (doing away with a filibuster) on this same issue earlier this year, they failed to get the necessary 60 votes. That means that this bill may not even come up for a vote in the Senate.
I think there is a possibility of overcoming this, albeit a slim one. What is necessary is to include amendments on this bill, which would make it very difficult for the Democrats to vote against it. For instance, if we combined the language in this bill with language requiring paid maternity leave and perhaps beefed-up access to mammograms for the working poor, i.e., women who cannot afford Obamacare, it would help.
I don’t think that alone would get us an override, but it would certainly put those who vote against the bill on a hotter hot seat than they are now.
Another important component is how the language is put forward. A stand-alone bill like this one is too easy to isolate and vote against. If the Senate put this as an amendment to legislation that is wanted by the industries in key Senatorial and House Democratic seats, it would make it a lot harder for the respective reps and senators to vote against it. It would also eliminate the need for a cloture vote.
So. The bill needs to be amended to add language that contains something the Ds really want. Plus the stand-alone bill needs to be dropped and the language should be placed as an amendment on legislation that key senators and house members need for their districts’ economy.
One final caveat is that the language defunding Planned Parenthood must be carefully worded. Language that specifically defunds Planned Parenthood by name is too easy for big pink to work around. All they have to do is create another entity with a different name and get the $$ going to that entity.
That would be a shell game similar to their specious claims that they don’t use federal money to do abortions. That is just a question of which column on their balance sheet Planned Parenthood uses to list the federal monies. They’re gargling the truth when they say they don’t use federal monies for abortions, and everyone in both parties knows it.
If we’re going to beat these folks, we’ve almost got to start being as politically smart about these things as they are. Instead of language that specifically naming Planned Parenthood, we need language defining what will not be funded. Something like “any entity that refers for or performs abortions” — and that then takes in interlocking boards and balance sheets — is a better way to go.