Reid: GOP must give in on Planned Parenthood to get spending deal

This article appeared online at The Hill on March 17, 2011.

Reid: GOP must give in on Planned Parenthood to get spending deal
By Alexander Bolton

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declared Thursday that a Republican proposal seeking to ban taxpayer dollars for Planned Parenthood will not be part of any agreement to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year.

Asked Thursday about the GOP proposal, Reid defended group, which provides abortions, and said the GOP measure will not be part of a long-term funding deal.

“[It] won’t be part of an agreement,” Reid said.

Reid’s vow will complicate negotiations on that spending deal. GOP leaders are under intense pressure from their members and outside groups to deny federal funds to Planned Parenthood. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who crafted the House amendment, has said it is time to pass his measure. It is one of 67 riders attached to the spending bill cleared by the House last month. Pence’s office declined to comment on Reid’s remarks.

The Senate on Thursday approved a measure to fund the government for another three weeks, which gives the competing sides a short period of time to reach a new deal.

Democrats on Capitol Hill, including Reid — who opposes abortion rights — argue that defunding Planned Parenthood would deprive low-income women of family-planning counseling and cancer screenings.

Nineteen Senate Democrats sent a letter to Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday pledging to defeat Republican efforts to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funds for the rest of the year.

“We wanted to offer our support in rejecting the ideological, divisive riders passed by the House of Representatives, which serve only a purely political agenda,” they wrote.

The senators say the rider would “effectively shut down health centers that serve three million women each year and provide nearly one million lifesaving screenings for cervical cancer, more than 830,000 breast exams and nearly four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.”

Aides to Reid and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) met for an hour and a half Wednesday evening to discuss a compromise to keep the government in operation beyond April 8. That’s when a stopgap funding measure passed Thursday by the Senate runs out.

Reid said he reviewed the list of amendments attached to the House-passed bill and found several unacceptable.

“Those that I focused on are not only no, but hell no,” Reid said.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, criticized Reid on Thursday evening: “Sen. Reid is wrong. Planned Parenthood is an abortion-centered organization and America’s largest. It performs more than 300,000 abortions a year, which constitutes at least 37 percent of its revenue, by conservative estimates…. Planned Parenthood must be defunded and it must be defunded now.”

Julian Pecquet contributed to this report, which was updated at 8:21 p.m.

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