As early as Monday, the U.S. Senate could have a vote on defunding Planned Parenthood. For sure, the vote will occur before it leaves for its August recess later next week.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has “fast-tracked” the bill, S. 1881, and the official clock has begun to tick down toward a cloture vote. Sixty votes are needed to prevent a filibuster and keep the bill on track for a vote.
Conservative groups have joined pro-life organizations to help encourage moderate Republicans and persuadable Democrats to vote for cloture.
As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, the co-sponsors of S. 1881 included Senators John Barrasso (WY), Roy Blunt (MO), John Boozman (AR), Richard Burr (NC) Dan Coats (IN), Tom Cotton (AR) John Cornyn (TX), Ted Cruz (TX), Steve Daines (MT), Mike Enzi (WY), Deb Fischer (NE), James Inhofe (OK), Johnny Isakson (GA), Ron Johnson (WI), James Lankford (OK), John McCain (AZ) Mitch McConnell (KY), Jerry Moran (KS), Rand Paul (KY), David Perdue (GA), Pat Roberts (KS), Ben Sasse (NE), Tim Scott (SC), and John Thune (SD).
On the other side of the Capitol, at a hearing on Tuesday of the House Education and Workforce Committee, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell faced a lot of questions about the fetal parts trafficking—questions she may not have been prepared for.
Dr. Phil Roe (R-TN) [@DrPhilRoe] asked if she had seen the Center for Medical Progress videos. She said she hadn’t. She also avoided answering Roe’s question as to whether she had had communication with Planned Parenthood on the topic of fetal-tissue gathering and trafficking.
How easy would it have been for her to say “No, sir” . . . if that were the truth?
Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA) [@RepRickAllen] asked Secretary Burwell if her department were investigating the fetal-parts trafficking. She said “No” to that pretty quickly, passing the ball to the Department of Justice.
Chairman John Kline (R-MN) [@repjohnkline] asked Secretary Burwell whether her department would take any action related to the videos. She sidestepped that question by saying that National Institute of Health (NIH) grantees who receive funds for research on fetal tissue must annually certify that they abide by the current laws relating to this research.
I think we can take that as a “No.”
Sounds like the Administration hasn’t got its talking points together yet.
But that’s about to change.
After the Human Capital Project released its third video on Monday, it became known that Planned Parenthood has engaged not one, but at least two major big-league, high-dollar public relations firms to help it cope with the serious brand-tarnishing that has been happening for the past two weeks.
“Planned Parenthood is a longtime client,” one of these firms, SKD Knickerbocker, said yesterday, “and we are proud to help them push back against these extremist attacks from people who want to end reproductive health care for women in this country.”
There you have a quick summary of what the media chatter will be for the next two weeks—with an added soupcon of “Attack the Messenger.”
On Monday, SKD sent a memo to producers and reporters across the country, alleging that the Human Capital videos were made under false pretenses and violated patient privacy. Implications like that tend to frighten producers off from covering stories.
If SKD’s talking point sounds a lot like what President Obama has said lately, that may be because SKD is headed by Anita Dunn, former Communications Director for Obama’s White House.
And would you like to know how many times Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards has been to the White House since Obama became president? It’s public information, available here. The answer, by the way, is 39 times.
Planned Parenthood may be playing catch-up ball, but they’ve just added media sharks to their team. Watch for the action to really heat up now.
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Connie Marshner is a commentator and researcher on life and family issues in the Washington, D.C., area.