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Friday, April 8, 2011

Planned Parenthood as a Budget Hostage

Tonight at the last minute, the US Congress agreed to a budget compromise that kept the government from shutting down. All through the day, the only real news seemed to be that a small, but obviously influential group of Republicans was willing to shut the government down in order to keep any federal funds from flowing to Planned Parenthood. As I noted here a month and a half ago, Planned Parenthood had been targeted by Republicans because it receives Title X funding to provide family planning services and, at the same time, it also provides abortion services--even though everyone who knows the organization indicates that no federal money goes for those abortion services. NBC News reported that:
Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Richard Durbin said a dispute over federal funding for family planning agencies, which has proven to be the biggest and last stumbling block, had been resolved.
One source told NBC News that the issue was no longer on the table.
Congressional sources told National Journal that the outline of the spending deal includes up to $39 billion in cuts from the 2010 budget, $514 billion for the defense budget covering the remainder of this fiscal year, a GOP agreement to abandon policy riders dealing with Planned Parenthood and the Environmental Protection Agency, and an agreement to pass legislation Friday night to keep the government running while the deal is written in bill form.
For the moment at least those funds to Planned Parenthood have not been cut, but the overall budget compromise was almost certainly several billion dollars lower in total funding for discretionary government spending than would otherwise have been the case had its funding not been held hostage.

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