A politically charged budget package moving in the House this week is creating a headache for Senate Republicans.
The package, which under budget reconciliation rules cannot be filibustered, will block money for Planned Parenthood and gut ObamaCare.
Three Senate Republicans are on record as opposing an end to federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkGOP senator: Don't link Planned Parenthood to ObamaCare repeal Republicans add three to Banking Committee Juan Williams: McConnell won big by blocking Obama MORE (Ill.), one of the most vulnerable Republicans in next year’s elections, twice voted against procedural motions on legislation to block the
healthcare group’s funding.
Sen. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsGOP rep faces testy crowd at constituent meeting over ObamaCare DeVos vows to be advocate for 'great' public schools GOP senators introducing ObamaCare replacement Monday MORE (Maine) has spoken on the Senate floor against defunding the group, though she did back a procedural motion in August that could have led to an up-or-down vote on defunding. She said she only did so on assurances from leadership that it would lead to another measure to maintain funding for Planned Parenthood’s other healthcare services.
Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiWhat we learned from Rick Perry's confirmation hearing Perry regrets saying he would abolish Energy Department Trump education pick to face Warren, Sanders MORE (Alaska) has also backed funding for Planned Parenthood, though she made the same vote in August as Collins based on the same argument.
Murkowski, Collins and Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteTen rumored Trump Cabinet picks who didn't get a job Sasse, Perdue join Armed Services Committee Avid pilot among GOP senators joining Transportation committee MORE (N.H.) in September all voted against proceeding to a short-term government funding measure that would have cut off Planned
Parenthood, further muddying the issue.
Republicans can only afford to lose three votes in the Senate if Democrats are unified against the budget package, giving them little room for error.
Ayotte, Collins, Kirk and Murkowski declined to say Tuesday whether they would vote for the House package.
“We’re not making news today,” said Kirk.
“I have not supported the defunding [of Planned Parenthood]. I’ve supported the repeal of ObamaCare. I’ve got to look at it as a whole,” said Murkowski, who faces reelection next year but is favored to win.
“I’m not going to prejudge what’s sent over by the House until I’ve seen all the components,” said Collins.
“I have to look at it,” said Ayotte, who on Monday learned Democrats had recruited Gov. Maggie Hassan to challenge her next year. The Ayotte-Hassan race is expected to be one of the most hotly contested Senate races in the cycle.
Democrats say Ayotte, Kirk and other endangered incumbents will pay a political price for supporting the House package, pointing to polls showing that only a minority of voters want to repeal ObamaCare.
“Their base is demanding bills to defend Planned Parenthood and the Affordable Care Act. It’s a terrible position to put purple-state Republicans in. It’s a very easy example of the base pulling the party to the right at the expense of their 2016ers,” said a Democratic leadership aide.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSenate confirms first nominees of Trump era The new Washington elite schmoozes over lunch Trump takes first official acts at signing ceremony MORE (R-Ky.) signaled Tuesday that he supports Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerLast Congress far from ‘do-nothing’ Top aide: Obama worried about impeachment for Syria actions An anti-government ideologue like Mulvaney shouldn't run OMB MORE’s (R-Ohio) strategy for aiming at both ObamaCare and Planned Parenthood in one package.
“We’ll take up reconciliation when it comes over from the House. And it’s my hope and expectation that it would have in it as much of ObamaCare as we can repeal. And I hope that it will also include provisions to de-fund Planned Parenthood,” he told reporters.
Democrats are expected to oppose the package unanimously. Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Cybersecurity: Dems split on Manning decision | Assange looking to make deal What we learned from Rick Perry's confirmation hearing Manning commutation sparks Democratic criticism MORE (D-W.Va.) has twice voted in recent months to defund Planned Parenthood, but he said he would vote against similar language if combined with an ObamaCare repeal.
“That’s bullshit. Pure, unadulterated bullshit,” he said.
The House Budget Committee will mark up its package Friday morning. It’s reviewing proposals to repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund, repeal the individual and employer mandate and repeal the so-called Cadillac tax and the medical
A Kaiser Health Tracking Poll from late August showed that more Americans have a favorable than unfavorable view of the law and 50 percent either want Congress to expand the law or continue implementing it as it is.
GOP strategists say centrists will incur relatively less pain by voting for the House-originated reconciliation package.
“The politics of defunding Planned Parenthood and repealing ObamaCare is not great for Republican senators in swing states, but it’s hard to see how a vote for a such a bill in the budget process would be a real game changer, as it’s a long time between now and November 2016,” said John Ullyot, a GOP strategist and former Senate aide.
Other Republicans facing tough races indicated they would vote for the House
“Absolutely,” said Sen. Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonOvernight Healthcare: GOP governors defend Medicaid expansion GOP senator: Let's work with Dems to 'fix' ObamaCare Right renews push for term limits as Trump takes power MORE (R-Wis.), who faces former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) in a rematch of his 2010 victory. “I think it clarifies the positions of the parties.”
Sarah Ferris contributed.