As the deadline to fund the government approaches, the House GOP leadership is floating a new plan that would allow members to rail against Planned Parenthood funding but avoid a government shutdown over the issue. The question is whether anti-abortion hardliners would sign on to a maneuver that has no chance of actually defunding the reproductive rights organization and wouldn't guarantee the political fireworks of a shutdown.
The route being hinted at by the House GOP leadership team this week would keep the government open past the Sept. 30 deadline through a stop-gap spending measure. The so-called "clean continuing resolution" would keep government spending levels at their current levels (Planned Parenthood funding included). But then to appease the hardliners, the leadership would push through a separate budget measure under "reconciliation" rules which would defund Planned Parenthood separately and could not be filibustered in the Senate.
This plan, still under consideration but emerging as a real alternative, would achieve a much-desired conservative goal: force Obama to grapple with Planned Parenthood funding directly, by either signing or vetoing it. But it would not force Obama to chose between funding the government and funding Planned Parenthood, a catch-22 that conservatives have been eager to put him in for weeks, despite's Obama assurance he would veto any legislation that defunded Planned Parenthood.
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