House GOP discussing using budget reconciliation for Planned Parenthood

House GOP discussing using budget reconciliation for Planned Parenthood
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House Republican leaders are discussing budget reconciliation as a leading option to fund the government while also blocking federal dollars for Planned Parenthood, according to people who attended a Wednesday night Republican conference meeting.

At a closed-door GOP conference meeting, House GOP Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseGOP: The economy will shield us from blue wave Jordan hits campaign trail amid bid for Speaker Scalise: Democrats need to denounce political violence MORE (R-La.) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil GOP: The economy will shield us from blue wave Jordan hits campaign trail amid bid for Speaker MORE (R-Calif.) presented the findings from their listening sessions held last week with rank-and-file members. They said there was some consensus around using reconciliation.

"You're not going to stop [Planned Parenthood] if you don't get this to the president's desk,” said Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.), a member of Republican leadership. “Reconciliation seems to be the clearest path to do that."

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No plan is finalized, however. 

Budget reconciliation rules would allow legislation to move through the Senate on a majority vote, preventing Democrats from filibustering the measure.

It would not prevent an Obama veto, however, something he has promised to do to legislation blocking funds for the family planning group, which has been under fire after a series of undercover videos detailed the organization's fetal tissue program.

“I think it’s very likely. I think it’s a good strategy,” Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) told reporters after the meeting about using reconciliation. 

Lawmakers said leadership did not talk much and let rank-and-file members express their opinions. Thirty-five members spoke during the meeting about Planned Parenthood, GOP aides said. 

They asked leadership about reconciliation, but GOP leaders did not explicitly endorse reconciliation as the preferred option to target Planned Parenthood.

Conservatives have demanded that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) defund Planned Parenthood through a government-wide funding package that must pass before Oct. 1 to avert a shutdown. 

Conservative Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) said reconciliation is not good enough, and defunding must be attached to the spending bill. 

“Unless it's tied to must-pass legislation, there's no chance of success,” he said after the meeting. “Everybody knows that.”

Boehner warned at a previous meeting that a government shutdown would hurt the pro-life cause, but he has not ruled out any options yet. 

With only seven legislative days left before the deadline, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) told reporters he has a “clean” continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government “ready to go.”

“We’ve got the CR ready to go. It’s the clean CR. The only thing we’re lacking is leadership’s decision on how long it should last and that’s under discussion,” he said. 

Rogers confirmed reconciliation is under discussion, but cautioned that there’s “no consensus at this point.”

He also explained that most of Planned Parenthood’s funding comes from the mandatory portion of the federal budget, which cannot be touched in a regular appropriations bill. 

If Republicans chose to defund Planned Parenthood in a CR, Rogers said it would only cut off 10 percent of funding to the group. 

Scott Wong contributed.

- Updated at 8:01 p.m.