Last week, the whining was over defunding Planned Parenthood as a condition of keeping the government open. Last night, the Republicans returned to it. NBC News producer Shawna Thomas sent notice of a new measure that would do exactly that. It's a correction of the spending bill that would insert this language: "None of the funds made available by this Act may be made available for any purpose to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. or any affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc."
Filed by Congresswomen Martha Roby (R-Alabama) and Diane Black (R-Tennessee), the measure has little chance of passing, Shawna reports. But what's amazing is the relentless pursuit of that single conservative goal.
This tells you quite a lot, really, about the people with whom Democrats are supposed to "seek compromise." A deal is cut to keep the government running, in which Democrats make major concessions on spending cuts and Republicans make concessions on their single-minded drive for social warfare. Democrats then help deliver up legislative language on specific cuts that can meet their end of the bargain, and Republicans deliver up... legislative language that says they were just kidding after all, and seeking to "correct" the deal after the fact.
Now, in order for this to work, it'd have to be brought to the floor for a vote and pass in both houses. It's said that such a measure has little chance of passing. But is that a sure thing? I suppose there's some hope that the House Republican leadership would honor the spirit of their deal by refusing to bring this resolution to the floor there. But it'll be interesting to watch what happens, because this measure very clearly lives within the letter of the agreement, but still offers the opportunity to wiggle around it.
Consider that the deal that cleared the way for keeping the government open actually does guarantee a Senate floor vote on defunding language. If the House passes the fully-year continuing appropriations bill agreed to under the deal—that is, one that does not contain the defunding language in the text— it lives within the bounds of the agreement. And if the House should then pass H. Con. Res. 36, as prior votes on bills containing such defunding language suggest it might, it would do so without violating the agreement with the White House. That is, they will have passed an appropriations bill that was free of the defunding language as agreed, but then also have passed a separate measure instructing the Clerk to reinsert that language after the fact.
At that point, Senate Republicans will be ready to collect on their payoff in this deal: a free, guaranteed, up-or-down vote on defunding language. And if they choose to hold that vote on H. Con. Res. 36, and they should manage to find a majority for it, then the full-year continuing appropriations bill goes to President Obama's desk with the defunding language in it despite the deal, and the choice will then be between a veto and a shutdown, or... another "compromise."
Remember, the terms of the deal guarantee a vote in the Senate. A filibuster breaks the deal. That's not to say it wouldn't be done. But it breaks the deal.
By the way, H. Con. Res. 36 isn't the only "correction" that's been introduced. H. Con. Res. 35 defunds the Affordable Care Act. Both resolutions are scheduled for hearings before the House Rules Committee today at 5 PM ET (watch here).
In case you were wondering about this "corrections" business and where it came from, you can probably thank Bart Stupak for reminding Republicans that this trick could be used for sneaking abortion provisions in under the wire.