(CNSNews.com) - House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) today would not rule out that the Republican House leadership would permit taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood in the final continuing resolution that Congress must enact to keep the government funded through the rest of fiscal year 2011, which runs through Sept. 30.
The CR currently funding the government--enacted by the Democrat-controlled lameduck Congress in December--expires on March 4. To keep the government funded past March 4, Congress must approve, and President Barack Obama must sign, another CR by that date.
This week, the Republican leadership is trying to approve a short-term two-week CR that would basically maintain the status quo on spending while they negotiate a longer-term CR with Senate Democrats and the White House.
On Feb. 19, the House passed a CR that would have kept the government funded through Sept. 30, but the Democrat-controlled Senate never took it up. That CR included an amendment sponsored by Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) that would have expressly prohibited any federal funding for Planned Parenthood or any of its affiliates for the rest of this fiscal year.
A coalition of prominent pro-life conservative leaders sent a letter last week to House Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio)—carbon copied to Majority Leader Cantor and other House Republican leaders--asking them to refuse to cut any deal on a CR that forced taxpayers to continue funding Planned Parenthood. “Defunding Planned Parenthood must be a non-negotiable in the Continuing Resolution and we urge you to accept nothing less than this outcome,” these conservatives told Boehner.
At a Monday pen-and-pad press briefing, however, Cantor would not rule out a final CR that permits federal funding of Planned Parenthood.
At the briefing, CNSNews.com asked Cantor: “Conservative leaders have called on the Republican leadership to make defunding of Planned Parenthood a ‘non-negotiable’ element of any CR. Under any circumstances, are Republican leaders willing to approve a final CR that funds the government for the remainder of the year and does not prohibit funding for Planned Parenthood?”
“I think that we’re trying to demonstrate right now we don’t want to see a shutdown and there will be no policy changes in the temporary CR,” Cantor responded. “However, in the long-term, again for the remaining of the fiscal year, is up to Harry Reid to answer to the members of his body and then, thus, their constituents as to where they stand and why he is fearful of holding a vote on some of these issues is really the question to be asked.”
Because this answer was not directly responsive to the question asked, CNSNews.com followed up with Cantor’s press secretary, once again specifically asking if the Republican House leadership was or was not ruling out permitting funding for Planned Parenthood in the final CR.
“The House has already made it very clear that we do not support tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood funding and the Pence amendment to accomplish this limitation was approved with bipartisan support in the 7-month CR,” Cantor Spokesperson Laena Fallon told CNSNews.com. “As Eric said, we now need to see where the Senate stands on this and other big issues.”
Rep. Pence's amendment to the long-term CR that already passed the House (but the Senate has ignored) would have explicitly prohibited funding of Planned Parenthood. It said: “None of the funds made available by this Act may be made available for any purpose to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. or any of the … affiliates of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc.”
The House approved the amendment by a 55-vote margin, 240 to 185.
Unless the House Republican majority reverses its position on a new long-term CR and agrees to allow federal funding of Planned Parenthood after March 4, Planned Parenthood cannot receive federal funding. The Constitution prohibits the Executive Branch from spending money that is not approved by an appropriation made by law—and no appropriations law can be made unless the majority of the House of Representatives approves it.
Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 of the Constitution states: “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”
For Planned Parentood's federal funding to continue, the White House and the Senate Democratic leadership must persuade the House Republican leadership to agree to it and have them secure the House Republican majority's votes for a CR that permits it.