In January, Republicans in the House of Representatives will be forced to take a back seat and watch their Democrat colleagues regain a majority in the chamber.
Next month, Speaker Pelosi with hammer the gavel and officially begin the 116th United States Congress, marking an end to a four-year reign of Republican majorities in both chambers.
There is much to say concerning whether the Republican majority was successful: They blocked the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice in former President Obama’s final year and they later confirmed a record number of appellate judges under President Trump; they repealed the Obamacare individual mandate and later passed the largest tax reform bill in modern history. Their list of achievements include many of the things the members promised to their voters, but one is notably missing: the defunding of Planned Parenthood.
As Politico reports, Republicans were unable to fulfill the campaign promise to the American people, even one that Trump mentioned during his presidential run.
With only a couple weeks left, it seems too much is on the table for the Republican majority to visit the issue once more. A recent attempt from Republican Senator Ted Cruz all but solidified that fact:
Congressional Republicans are giving up on years of promises to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood as Democrats prepare to take control of the House, a major setback for the conservative movement after controlling both chambers of Congress and the White House for the past two years.
The futility of the congressional efforts was clear as the lame-duck session of Congress convened this week and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) briefly tried — and failed — to rally support for one last bid to push through Planned Parenthood cuts, Obamacare repeal and other conservative priorities. But most Republicans, already rattled by the possibility of a shutdown next week triggered by President Donald Trump’s border wall demands, dismissed his bid.
Conservatives are frustrated and Kristan Hawkins, president of the anti-abortion group Students for Life of America said she and other anti-abortion groups worked tirelessly to get these Republicans elected, only to get let down in the end.
“They had two years to defund Planned Parenthood, and they failed,” Hawkins said. “It’s a huge frustration. We worked so hard to elect supposedly these pro-life Republican officials, and we expected results.”
Cruz intends to keep pushing cuts to Planned Parenthood’s funding in the next Congress, a spokesperson said. But most conservatives and anti-abortion groups are looking elsewhere. Groups including Susan B. Anthony List, the Heritage Foundation and Students for Life in America met Wednesday at the White House with Strategic Communications Adviser Mercedes Schlapp and other officials to urge them to flex their administrative powers and take a hard line with Congress.
“We told the White House, ‘Don’t sign any budget that funds Planned Parenthood,’” Hawkins said. “‘We need you to uphold your campaign promises and force Congress to uphold theirs.’”
Conservatives and others in the anti-abortion movement will have to set their eyes on 2020, as a Democrat-majority House will surely collapse any attempt by the Senate to cut funding for the abortion giant.
In the meantime, conservatives can rest their hope in the state and federal court system, which some people believe can overturn the monumental Roe v. Wade decision:
Voters in Alabama and West Virginia also passed constitutional amendments that threaten to strip Planned Parenthood of all state taxpayer funding and would criminalize all abortions should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade. The measures could serve as a model for some other conservative-led states.
The Supreme Court may additionally take up cases testing whether states can block Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from their Medicaid programs — a development that would serve as the first major abortion test for the court’s new conservative majority.
For decades, no federal dollars have gone to fund abortions, but there have been many legal battles over whether providers like Planned Parenthood that offer a wide range of health services in addition to abortion are entitled to some amount of public health care funding. Justices have twice this year declined to act on petitions from Kansas and Louisiana to cut the family planning network from receiving state Medicaid dollars, but with Brett Kavanaugh now confirmed as the ninth justice, he may provide the needed fourth vote to agree to accept one of the cases.