Lawmakers return to Washington today from their summer recess, and the upcoming session is already being billed a “countdown to shutdown.”
Republican leaders have lost the fight over the nuclear deal with Iran. Their next challenge is funding for Planned Parenthood.
My colleague Russell Berman has the state of play:
With federal funding set to expire on September 30, conservatives are once again demanding a standoff that Boehner and McConnell are hell-bent on avoiding. This time around, the issue that might prevent an orderly—if temporary—extension of funding is Planned Parenthood. Along with Cruz, House conservatives insist that any spending bill sent to President Obama’s desk explicitly prohibit taxpayer dollars from going to the women’s health organization, which has come under fire over undercover videos that purportedly show its officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue. Democrats have rallied around Planned Parenthood, and an effort to ax its approximately $500 million in annual funding is likely to fall short, either by running into a filibuster in the Senate or a presidential veto.
Here’s National Journal:
And as dissatisfaction with their leadership peaks on the right, it remains unclear what consequences could arise for top Republicans if they fail to deliver on sought-after conservative demands, particularly stripping Planned Parenthood of roughly $500 million in annual federal funding. …
[T]he fight over Planned Parenthood was delayed by the August recess, but is likely to come to a head again as Congress debates how to prevent a shutdown on Oct. 1, when the government’s funding expires. Neither chamber has a funding plan in place (though a short-term continuing resolution appears likely) and conservative leaders are still seething over undercover videos that allege that the organization illegally sold fetal tissue, allegations the group vigorously denies.
Politico adds that Republican leaders, especially Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader from Kentucky, “are eager to avoid yet another government shutdown threat fueled by a partisan standoff.” And, it notes, McConnell not only lacks the 60 votes needed to advance bills that strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding, but that one recent poll shows 69 percent of Americans oppose a government shutdown over the issue.
“All that,” Politico adds, “has mattered little to conservatives.”