Politics & Policy

House Could Fund Planned Parenthood Under Cover of Pope’s Visit

House speaker John Boehner (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

House speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) could call up legislation to fund the government, such as a continuing resolution (CR), on Thursday or Friday of next week.

The House has voted to grant Boehner same-day consideration — known colloquially as “martial law,” because it allows the speaker to call up the bill and have it receive an up-or-down vote in one day — for legislation on September 24 and September 25, according to the House clerk.

Thursday is already guaranteed to be busy, because Pope Francis will be addressing a joint session of Congress. “The pope is coming and there’s a possibility of putting that CR on the floor that afternoon,” one House Republican tells National Review.

That would be a controversial move in the GOP conference if the bill was a so-called “clean” CR — one that did not include language stripping taxpayer funding from Planned Parenthood. “Because that’s what they did on executive amnesty, they did it after [Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu] spoke,” the lawmaker says. “As soon as he left, they put the executive amnesty on the floor to fund it and it passed with Democrat votes. And our voters were upset, but I do think the news coverage of it was drowned out by Netanyahu’s speech. And so, I think that if they’re going to do just a clean CR, I think that you might just see it on the floor next Thursday, after the pope.” Another House Republican suggests that the vote might come on Friday, potentially the last legislative day that the lower chamber could pass a bill before Senate leadership initiates the process of passing a clean CR, as it prefers.

RELATED: Dear GOP Leaders, Stop Being Cowards on Abortion Fight

The executive-amnesty fight that coincided with Netanyahu’s visit is instructive. House leaders turned to Democrats to push through a clean CR only after passing a Department of Homeland Security funding bill banning implementation of Obama’s executive orders on immigration, which failed in the Senate due to a series of Democratic filibusters. If that’s any precedent, then Boehner is unlikely to pass a bill that includes funding for Planned Parenthood if the Senate has not yet tried to defund the abortion giant.

#share#Boehner is in a difficult spot. There are likely enough conservatives to deny him the 218 Republican votes he needs to pass a government-funding bill without Democratic help if it doesn’t include language defunding Planned Parenthood. If Boehner acquiesces to their demands and passes a bill stripped of funding for the abortion giant, President Obama will veto it, potentially triggering another government shutdown. And if he seeks out House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) to deliver Democratic votes for a clean CR, she will likely demand concessions in return — and his restless right flank may mount another attempt to depose him as speaker.

Boehner and Pelosi met Thursday afternoon, at Pelosi’s request, to talk about the upcoming fiscal fight. Nothing was resolved, according to the California Democrat. “We’re having a conversation about that, in close to how we negotiate,” she said. ”I’m optimistic that saner heads will prevail, and we will have no shutdown of government, and we will form an agreement to go forth — to include jobs, promote growth, and meet the needs of the American people.”

#related#It would be important for Boehner to move first if he hoped to pass a CR that defunds Planned Parenthood or deviates in any other way from the Senate’s preferred option. The Republican Study Committee, for instance, unveiled an alternative continuing-resolution proposal on Tuesday that would include a number of legislative riders dear to conservatives, such as the defunding of Planned Parenthood and Obamacare. The bill represents a sort of maximalist negotiating position for the House GOP’s Right. Representative Diane Black (R., Tenn.) wants to impose a one-year moratorium on all taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood while Congress investigates the group’s apparent sale of fetal body parts. But it’s also true that Republican leadership is working with some conservatives to persuade the GOP conference to try to defund Planned Parenthood through a separate budgetary process known as reconciliation, while allowing the clean continuing resolution to pass in the meantime.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) wants Congress to pass a clean continuing resolution that does not entail a fight over Planned Parenthood in order to preclude a government shutdown. It remains to be seen whether Boehner has such a resolution in mind for next week.

— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.

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