Republicans Say Enough With the Government-Shutdown Talk Already

Many doubt the government would really shut down over Planned Parenthood funding.

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 09: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (3rd L), Senate Minority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) (R), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Sen. John Thune (R-SD), speak to members of the media after the Senate Republican Policy Luncheon at the Capitol December 9, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Senate Republican leadership responded to a report on CIA's use of torture conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee where were released today.
National Journal
Caitlin Owens and Dylan Scott
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Caitlin Owens and Dylan Scott
July 30, 2015, 11:26 a.m.

While a hand­ful of con­ser­vat­ives are hanker­ing for a show­down in Septem­ber over Planned Par­ent­hood fund­ing, many prom­in­ent Re­pub­lic­ans are dis­miss­ing the pos­sib­il­ity that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment could shut down over the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s stream of fed­er­al dol­lars.

The GOP is liv­id over re­cently re­leased sting videos that show Planned Par­ent­hood of­fi­cials al­legedly dis­cuss­ing the sale of fetal tis­sue. The Sen­ate will try next week to move for­ward on a stand-alone meas­ure to de­fund the group and re­dir­ect the money to com­munity health cen­ters, though it is ex­pec­ted to fail in the face of Demo­crat­ic op­pos­i­tion.

But with memor­ies of the 2013 gov­ern­ment shut­down fresh in many of their minds, few Re­pub­lic­ans seem to think it’s worth clos­ing down the gov­ern­ment over the is­sue.

“No. Not over this,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, a mem­ber of Sen­ate lead­er­ship and chair of the Ap­pro­pri­ations sub­com­mit­tee that over­sees health care, when asked if the gov­ern­ment could shut down over the con­tro­versy.

That doesn’t mean Blunt wants the is­sue to go away. “I think it’ll be an on­go­ing top­ic for dis­cus­sion un­til Planned Par­ent­hood comes up with a much bet­ter ex­plan­a­tion for their con­duct than they have so far,” he said.

In the House, a group of 18 Re­pub­lic­ans sent a let­ter Wed­nes­day to their lead­er­ship say­ing that they would not vote for a gov­ern­ment spend­ing bill that con­tin­ued to fund Planned Par­ent­hood.

“It would lead to a fight, no ques­tion about that,” said Rep. Phil Roe, chair­man of the GOP Doc­tors Caucus. “There’s no doubt that it would, but I think this is a fight worth hav­ing.

“I’d be will­ing to shut the gov­ern­ment down over hu­man life,” he said, adding that he does not fore­see a shut­down ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing.

But there was al­ways likely to be a con­tin­gent of Far-Right Re­pub­lic­ans who wouldn’t sup­port whatever spend­ing bill lead­er­ship put for­ward. It is much more doubt­ful that GOP lead­ers would be will­ing to pick a fight with Sen­ate Demo­crats and Pres­id­ent Obama over the is­sue and risk a shut­down.

“I don’t think to the point that it will stop a CR,” said Rep. Tom Cole, who chairs the House Ap­pro­pri­ations sub­com­mit­tee for health and is a close ally of Speak­er John Boehner, when asked if the Planned Par­ent­hood is­sue could sty­mie the spend­ing bill. Con­gress is ex­pec­ted to pass a short-term con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion be­fore the Sept. 30 dead­line.

“Look, I’m very sym­path­et­ic to my col­leagues,” Cole said, not­ing that his pan­el’s Ap­pro­pri­ations bill had cut all fund­ing for a fed­er­al pro­gram that fun­nels money to­ward Planned Par­ent­hood. “But I don’t be­lieve in shut­ting down gov­ern­ment and I don’t be­lieve in black­mail­ing your lead­er­ship.

“A lot of these threats are from people who won’t vote for the CR or fi­nal deal any­way, so they don’t carry too much cred­ib­il­ity,” he ad­ded. “But we should be work­ing to­ward what they’re try­ing to do. I just don’t be­lieve in gov­ern­ment shut­downs as the vehicle to do it.”

Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans in par­tic­u­lar swept in­to power last year with a prom­ise to make Con­gress more func­tion­al. Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell has said on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment would not shut down or de­fault on its debt un­der his lead­er­ship.

“Those are the com­mit­ments that we made,” said Sen. John Bar­rasso, the No. 4 Re­pub­lic­an, on Thursday.

Even those work­ing on the up­per cham­ber’s de­fund meas­ure balked at the no­tion of shut­ting down the gov­ern­ment to cut Planned Par­ent­hood money.

“I’m hop­ing to avoid that,” said Sen. Joni Ernst, who led the work­ing group that pro­duced the bill. “I don’t want to see the gov­ern­ment shut down. I’m not even go­ing to talk about that.”

“I’m not try­ing to risk a shut­down. That’s not what I’m try­ing to do,” said Sen. James Lank­ford of Ok­lahoma, an­oth­er mem­ber of the work­ing group.

That sen­ti­ment seemed to per­vade much of the GOP con­fer­ence.

“I’m go­ing to want to make sure that we keep the gov­ern­ment fun­ded,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hamp­shire.

Alex Rogers contributed to this article.
What We're Following See More »
Trump Backtracks on Putin's "Incredible Offer"
1 days ago
Russians Refer to "Verbal Agreements" with Trump
2 days ago

"Two days after President Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, Russian officials offered a string of assertions about what the two leaders had achieved. 'Important verbal agreements' were reached at the Helsinki meeting, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, told reporters in Moscow Wednesday, including preservation of the New Start and INF agreements," and cooperation in Syria.

Trump Was Shown Proof of Russian Interference Before Inauguration
2 days ago

"Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election. The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation. Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed."

Trump: High IQ People Loved the Putin Meeting
3 days ago
Comey Says to Vote Democratic This Fall
3 days ago

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.