House Republicans declared defeat this week and are backing off of their claim that they won’t pass Zika funding without defunding Planned Parenthood.
Frankly, it’s about time. Zika’s spreading like wildfire throughout southern Florida, and the Republicans have been blocking the $1.1 billion funding package due to ideological reasons for months now. This concession of defeat isn’t something we should celebrate, though — we should be disgusted that we’re even sitting here talking about it.
Even the most conservative members of Congress are pushing for a deal with the Democrats in order to get the emergency money where it needs to be, right now. In a Thursday interview about the funding bill, Kamikaze Caucus member Ted Yoho (R-Fla) said that it was time to, “Take everything out of it except Zika funding” and they shouldn’t “put any riders in it.”
Another Kamikaze Caucus member, Curt Clawson (R-Fla – noticing a pattern?) also urged the Senate to reconsider the House’s earlier Zika bill — which didn’t mention Planned Parenthood — even if it meant providing less money overall. Writing in his letter, Clawson said to GOP leaders:
“It is time for members to pull all levers in both chambers of Congress to get a funding measure to the president’s desk.”
Yes, please. Let’s see Congress do something. We’ve only had a useful Congress for what, two out of the last 22 years? It didn’t get any better when the Kamikaze Caucus hijacked the political process and flew it straight into our economic stability or national security, either.
A few other Florida Republicans, like Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Dennis Ross — have also been dropping hints that they’re willing to put saving lives above ideology and relent in the fight over Planned Parenthood funding.
This deadlock has been ongoing since February. And while Democrats have pushed for more money, the Republicans have argued that the White House should use existing funds, like those from the Ebola virus panic back in 2014 (does anyone still remember that?) or Obamacare.
In June, the GOP targeted Planned Parenthood in a new bill, noting that only health services “provided by public health departments, hospitals, or reimbursed through public health plans” can receive the Zika funding from Congress.
While it doesn’t explicitly say “Planned Parenthood,” top Republicans like Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) have come right out and said it targets the organization:
“We do have provisions, obviously, to make it more difficult for Planned Parenthood. But in divided government, it’s a pretty fair compromise.”
Planned Parenthood is one of the major sources of healthcare for poor people. Just because Obamacare exists doesn’t mean copays, coinsurances, and deductibles went away, and for poor people, those can sometimes be more prohibitive than the premium.
The only way Cole’s suggestion can be considered a “good compromise” is if you think allowing allowing a Kamikaze pilot to target half a ship is a “good compromise” for the safety of everyone aboard.
Thankfully, the GOP is feeling the pressure, and now they’re backing off of their ideologically motivated policies. There have been more than 600 people who tested positive for Zika, with 80 of those cases in pregnant women. On September 30, the CDC says it will run out of funds, and the race is on to get it passed before then.
Speaker Paul Ryan announced that he is committed to passing the funding before then. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who’s facing a tough race in his South Florida swing district this fall, said in an interview on Thursday:
“Speaker Ryan assured me that this was going to get done.”
He encouraged his fellow GOPers to support the Zika bill even without the pointless and blinkered attacks on Planned Parenthood, and when asked what scenario he could see the Zika bill not being approved, he said, “I’m unwilling to even consider the possibility,” adding:
“This Planned Parenthood clinic in Puerto Rico, is that really worth killing Zika funding over? The question that comes, is Zika funding a chief priority for you or not? I certainly hope that at the very least, for every representative or senator for the state of Florida it would be.”
To the ideologically motivated clowns in the GOP? No, it isn’t, and yes, destroying Planned Parenthood is worth killing the Zika funding. But, thankfully, they appear to be backing off of this one — for the betterment of everybody.
Feature image via Facebook