Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)
House Republicans are putting Senate Republicans in a difficult spot
with their plan to use reconciliation to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal chunks of Obamacare. Those are the kind of politically risky votes that Republicans in the heavily gerrymandered House can embrace, but senators have to be a little more careful about. Senators facing tough races in 2016, for instance, and those who like to be seen as sane moderates.
Sen. Mark Kirk (Ill.), one of the most vulnerable Republicans in next year’s elections, twice voted against procedural motions on legislation to block the healthcare group’s funding.
Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) has spoken on the Senate floor against defunding the group, though she did back a procedural motion in August that could have led to an up-or-down vote on defunding. She said she only did so on assurances from leadership that it would lead to another measure to maintain funding for Planned Parenthood’s other healthcare services. [...]
Murkowski, Collins and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) in September all voted against proceeding to a short-term government funding measure that would have cut off Planned Parenthood, further muddying the issue.
Republicans need 51 votes for reconciliation, which means that all four of these senators will come under intense pressure from their fellow Republicans, no doubt, but they'll also have to ask themselves "Do I want to be The One Deciding Vote on defunding Planned Parenthood?" And that's the sort of thing that will not help Kirk or Ayotte in their re-election campaigns and will deal a real blow to Collins' carefully maintained reputation as a non-extremist.