Three months ago, Republican members of Congress — including multiple presidential candidates — were threatening to shut down the government if the federal budget included Planned Parenthood funding. Early Wednesday morning, these same funds slipped quietly into Congress’ lengthy spending bill. None of the major policy riders that would leave the door open for future funding cuts made it in. If the House and Senate approve the bill this week as expected, Planned Parenthood funding will plausibly stay put until September 2016.
“Extreme members of Congress spent an entire year targeting access to reproductive health care at every opportunity,” said Dana Singiser, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood, in a statement. “Today’s budget bill maintains access to critical preventive health services and lacks these harmful attacks on women’s health care — at home and abroad.”
The spending bill slashed measures that would give states the power to defund Planned Parenthood and strengthen protections for medical providers who don’t want to cover or administer abortions. One funding cut did make it through: A 7 percent decrease in funding for the United Nations Population Fund, a UN organization address reproductive health. However, Singiser called it “small” compared to the avoided threats.
The debate on Planned Parenthood funding may have been cooled by other growing hot-button issues — like immigration policy and gun control — but this may have been intentional.
The Associated Press reports that GOP aides and lawmakers have said they didn’t want the spending bill to “overshadow their assault on Obama’s health law and Planned Parenthood.” Instead, they may be preparing for a spotlight-grabbing fight leading up to a January House vote to repeal Obamacare, which includes Planned Parenthood funding.