Planned Parenthood fight raises chances of shutdown, says budget expert

Planned Parenthood fight raises chances of shutdown, says budget expert
© Getty Images

Budget expert Stan Collender estimates there’s a 60 percent chance of a government shutdown in October given the divisive fight over federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

A week ago, Collender predicted there was only a 40 percent chance.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The chance of a federal government shutdown increased dramatically and precipitously last week from 40 percent to 60 percent. It’s now more likely than not that a shutdown will result from the craziness going on in Washington,” he wrote in a column posted Monday on Forbes.com. 

“If anything, 60 percent may understate the odds of it actually happening,” added Collender, executive vice president at Qorvis MSLGROUP.

He said the debate over where to increase government spending next year is already creating a stalemate between Democrats and Republicans. Even more divisive, he said, is the GOP push to defund Planned Parenthood.

The organization has come under fire because of videos that a conservative group recorded with a hidden camera showing officials discussing the transfer of fetal organs and tissue for medical research.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) could create a coalition of moderates and Democrats in each chamber to pass a spending package that continues to fund Planned Parenthood, Collender wrote, but that could be blocked by 2016 presidential candidates.

The four candidates — Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — "will likely fight each other to lead the filibuster that prevents a [continuing resolution] that funds Planned Parenthood from being debated," he said. "Given the very little time left before the start of the fiscal year, that filibuster alone could lead to at least a quick shutdown."

Collender said even if the Senate passes a spending package that includes Planned Parenthood funding, it could hit a roadblock with the “far more socially conservative House Republican majority.”

Eighteen House Republicans have already pledged to GOP leaders not to vote for any bill funding Planned Parenthood. Conservative political blogger Erick Erickson also wrote last week that a shutdown would be worth it if it meant cutting the funding.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats could filibuster a bill that would defund the organization, as they’re expected to do on a stand-alone bill Monday evening. The White House has already promised to veto legislation that cuts funds for Planned Parenthood.

Shortly after Republicans won in last November’s midterm elections, McConnell promised there would be no more government shutdowns under his leadership.

Once Congress returns to Capitol Hill from its August recess, lawmakers must pass a new spending measure by Oct. 1 and will only have about 12 days left in session before the deadline.