There were 53 votes in the U.S. Senate to defund Planned Parenthood yesterday. For pro-life, that should count as a victory.
Planned Parenthood has deep roots on Capitol Hill. We have always known that, so the remarkable thing about yesterday is that the vote to defund it was as high as it was.
Technically—and when you’re talking U.S. Senate procedures, technicalities matter—yesterday’s vote was a motion to end a filibuster. Not a filibuster like Jimmy Stewart’s in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Senators rarely stand for hours on the floor and keep talking. Nowadays filibusters usually are visible only when a cloture vote occurs. Sixty votes, aka a super-majority, are needed to invoke cloture and end debate. Yesterday’s vote was 53-46.
Salient fact for pro-lifers who seek GOP perfidy under every bed: Yes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voted no.
That is not because he is any friend of Planned Parenthood. On the contrary, he has spoken eloquently in favor of defunding the organization. A quirk of Senate procedure is that if the Majority Leader votes for a measure, he forfeits his right to call it up for another vote. Thus, in order to preserve the option to call it up at another time, McConnell voted against cloture yesterday. This leaves him with more cards in his deck.
Still, 53 votes is not 60. So how was it a victory?
Because it is a good indicator that a majority of Senators seem willing to remove from the federal trough the largest abortion provider in the country. That will matter a great deal in a few months when Congress gets around to funding the government once again.
Follow the money. Think: federal budget.
Most appropriations bills have not yet passed Congress, and won’t before the fall. That means that there will be one comprehensive “continuing resolution” or “CR” late in the year. Multiple agencies will be lumped together into one huge piece of federal spending. Congress may be asked to vote on funding everything from aviation to environment to nutrition and defense—all in one bill and all under the gun of time because “the government will have to shut down if this doesn’t pass.”
Most likely, funding for Planned Parenthood will be included in that CR.
At that point in time, 53 Senators can stop the wheels of Congress. Every lobby, every special interest, and every bureaucrat will be panting to pass the CR. Planned Parenthood, which donated $675,000 in PAC contributions in the last election cycle (mostly to Democrats), will be screaming louder than many.
That will be the time to call upon those 53 Senators again. The message should be simple: Refuse to vote for a CR unless it defunds Planned Parenthood.
In the meantime, the pressure must stay on. A broad coalition of pro-life groups has declared August 22 a National Day of Protest against Planned Parenthood.
There are more videos to come. There are congressional investigations to come. There are state investigations to come. By the time Congress has to vote on a Continuing Resolution this fall, ignorance of Planned Parenthood’s iniquity will be impossible to claim.
The pro-life quiver has never had more arrows in it.
Will the movement have enough political strength to compel 53 Senators to screw their courage to the sticking point and say, “Defund Planned Parenthood or we will shut down the government”?
Yesterday’s vote set the stage for a historic Continuing Resolution.
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Connie Marshner is a commentator and researcher on life and family issues in the Washington, D.C., area.