Planned Parenthood Funding A Major Stumbling Block In Budget Negotiations
The Associated Press: "On the brink of a painful government shutdown, the Obama administration readied furlough notices for hundreds of thousands of workers Friday as Republican and Democratic leaders accused each other of refusing to give ground on a deal to keep operations running. ... Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused the Republicans of blocking a compromise because they were determined to make it harder 'for women to get cancer screenings' -- a Planned Parenthood funding reference. Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said spending cuts - not social issues - were blocking agreement to prevent a shutdown. ... Barring an agreement or perhaps another temporary bill to keep the government operating, the shutdown of most of the government would begin at midnight" (Feller, 4/8).
Los Angeles Times: "As the countdown clock toward a deal to avert a federal shutdown neared zero, and for all the talk of reducing the size of government and scaling back federal spending, Democrats complained Friday that House Republicans were again fixated an age-old sticking point: Abortion. ... At issue is a provision, known as Title X, that sends federal dollars to Planned Parenthood for family planning and health services such as cancer screenings. Republicans want to allow states to redirect that money away from abortion providers. They also want to eliminate $317 million from the program for the 2011 fiscal year" (Oliphant and Mascaro, 4/8).
ABC News: "The elimination of more than $300 million in federal funding for women's health care centers, including Planned Parenthood, may well force a government shutdown at midnight tonight. ... Conservative lawmakers say the money indirectly subsidizes abortions, despite the fact that the federal Hyde Amendment expressly prohibits such use of taxpayer funds. ... Democrats say Republicans are on an extremist crusade to put a 'bulls eye on women in America' and undermine essential preventive health care services for millions of low-income women that rely on Planned Parenthood and other non-related centers every day" (Dwyer, 4/8).
NPR: "Planned Parenthood has issued urgent messages to journalists, asking us be more careful about saying the spending fight is about money for abortion since, as the organization points out, it's against federal law for U.S. taxpayer dollars to be used for abortions except in certain emergency situations. Instead, the non-profit provider of health services to women says the spending battle is actually due to House Republicans focusing an attack on Planned Parenthood, the organization itself, because it provides family planning in its mix of services. But 90 percent of the health care it provides is preventive screening services like those for breast and cervical cancers, Planned Parenthood says" (James, 4/8).
Politico: "Faced with White House opposition to the language in a House-passed funding bill, GOP aides have been working to find a way to alter the Planned Parenthood provision in a way that can pass muster with both Democrats and conservative Republicans" (Cohen and Allen, 4/8).
Meanwhile, in case lawmakers and White House are unable to reach an agreement before the federal government shutdown occurs at 12:01 a.m., the Department of Health and Human Services has posted its contingency plan on its website.
Kaiser Health News summarized earlier coverage of the continuing budget debate.