The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List and Rep. Jim Jordan, head of the Republican Study Committee, just held a conference call in which Jordan said the fight is all about abortion. “The country’s broke. The vast majority of Americans, whether they’re pro-life or not, don’t want their tax dollars being spent to take the life of unborn children,” Jordan said. When asked about how no federal funds go to paying for abortions – Planned Parenthood carefully segregates the funds – Jordan scoffed: “Come on. Money is fungible, and for them to make that claim – it’s just common sense that money is fungible. We think that tax payers understand this and they don’t want their money to be used in this manner.”
Speaker Boehner said this morning that “almost all of the policy issues have been dealt with and there is no agreement on the spending limit.” But Jordan’s remarks would seem to contradict this claim. The Republican Study Committee represents 175 of the most conservative Republicans – a giant bloc without whom Boehner cannot pass anything.
Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told reporters this afternoon that after House and Senate negotiators came to an agreement on $38 billion in cuts, Boehner brought up this rider. “[At] midnight last night it was down to one issue: Title X. They made a proposal to us and we said, ‘That’s unacceptable,’” Durbin said. “And then they spent the rest of the night — instead of saying, ‘Ok, can we re-approach that’ – saying, ‘Ok, let’s reopen the conversation on the numbers.’ You know that is maddening. At some point this has to come to a close.”
Durbin said the Senate is digging in its heels at $38 billion. The fact that Boehner asked for more money would hint that abortion isn’t really the sticking point, but Democratic aides say the issue isn’t money. “If it were a matter for a couple more billion in cuts in exchange for them dropping Title X, don’t you think we would’ve done that by now?” an aide said.
The debate over the substance of the rider also shows how important the issue has become. Boehner’s folks didn’t just offer the rider. They also discussed procedural votes in the Senate and alternatives where President Obama would be “signing things regardless of the outcome,” Durbin said. All of which Senate Democrats and the Administration rejected. “The ball’s in the Speaker’s court, our offer is out there,” Durbin said. And thus far, Boehner’s not moving and the clock is still ticking.