While House conservatives said they would show some flexibility over whether the next short-term CR includes the Planned Parenthood language, several said it must be in the final package.
“Short-term, I think there’s been patience given to the leadership from those who care greatly about this, but in the long-term CR I think it’s going to have to be in there,” freshman Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) said, adding that patience was “wearing thin” among Members about the prospect of passing several short-term spending measures.
“It’s a priority for our Conference; 240 Members voted for this,” Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) said. “This is very important, and it’s on the table.”
The Family Research Council is taking it a step further. It believes the Planned Parenthood language is so critical that it plans to score votes on both short-term and long-term CRs to try to convince Members to keep the language intact.
“We gave them a pass on the first short-term CR, but we think it’s about time that they stand up,” FRC spokesman Tom McClusky said. “It’s a matter of if not now, then when.”
Americans for Tax Reform is also in the process of circulating a letter supporting Pence’s amendment in the CR, according to the group’s spokesman, John Kartch.
Even so, some House Republicans said the level of spending cuts is still the No. 1 priority.
Rep. Mike Simpson, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and Environment, said, “To me, the important thing is to get spending down.”
The Idaho Republican noted the other GOP priorities may not make the final cut either, such as language limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, to get a deal that funds the government through the end of the year.
“If some of the language has to get left behind and picked up later, that’s how it’ll have to be,” he said.
Democrats are already preparing for the Planned Parenthood language fight.
Rep. Diana DeGette (Colo.), a staunch abortion-rights supporter who whipped votes against Pence’s amendment last month, said she worked with Senate Democrats to kill the Planned Parenthood language in their version of the spending plan.
DeGette said most Democrats would not support any CR that contains abortion funding language, and she blasted Republicans for pursuing a conservative social cause in a critical spending bill. Ten moderate Democrats, including Reps. Heath Shuler (N.C.), Dan Lipinski (Ill.) and Mike Ross (Ark.), voted in favor of the Pence language in the House-passed long-term CR.
“I think that the No. 1 issue Americans care about is jobs, and to somehow get job creation and passing a CR tangled up with abortion politics is really irresponsible on their part,” DeGette said.
DeGette also predicted Republicans would push two more abortion-related measures sponsored by Pitts and Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) in the coming weeks. Both measures would prohibit the use of federal funds for abortions, and they could be brought up before the upcoming April recess.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with Faye, a pot belly pig, after a news conference held by Citizens Against Government Waste at the Phoenix Park Hotel to release the 2015 Congressional Pig Book which identifies pork-barrel spending in Congress, May 13, 2015.