Byrd Watching: GOP Eyes Rule on Planned Parenthood
The most important vote on the bill to defund Planned Parenthood isn't a senator's — it's the parliamentarian's! Until now, most Americans had probably never heard of Elizabeth MacDonough, who, for all practical purposes, is the Senate's referee. The first-ever woman to hold the job, parliamentarian MacDonough will have the weight of the House's budget reconciliation bill on her shoulders when the chamber considers it as early as next week.
The most important vote on the bill to defund Planned Parenthood isn’t a senator’s — it’s the parliamentarian’s! Until now, most Americans had probably never heard of Elizabeth MacDonough, who, for all practical purposes, is the Senate’s referee. The first-ever woman to hold the job, parliamentarian MacDonough will have the weight of the House’s budget reconciliation bill on her shoulders when the chamber considers it as early as next week.
As the umpire of elaborate procedures and points of order, MacDonough is often called on to settle bitter disputes over what’s germane and what isn’t. The same will be true this month, as Republicans try to get the first bill defunding Planned Parenthood and pieces of ObamaCare onto the president’s desk. Under the budget reconciliation process, the parliamentarian will be a major figure in deciding whether the bill passes the “Byrd test.” If it doesn’t, conservatives are back to square one on the group’s funding.
Right now, the only thing standing in the way of advancing the measure is a 25-year-old rule that gives Democrats their only real crack at blocking the bill. Since reconciliation speeds up the process, former Senator Robert Byrd created an accountability mechanism. Under his rule, senators can object to a bill if they think it doesn’t change spending or reduce the deficit (which is the ultimate purpose of reconciliation). The Senate could waive the rule, but it would take 60 votes that the GOP doesn’t have.
Obviously, the president’s party will do anything to protect Planned Parenthood and ObamaCare — including arguing that these provisions are irrelevant to the budget process. That’s where Elizabeth MacDonough comes in. As the parliamentarian, it will be up to her to wade through all of the legalese and decide if they’re right. Democrats have spent the last several weeks insisting that the Planned Parenthood provision isn’t germane. Republicans have fired back that their interpretation is too narrow. “I literally don’t understand their logic,” Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) said in an interview with The Daily Signal. “The Byrd rule allows for a whole lot more repeal of ObamaCare than what is being contemplated.” Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also chimed in. “At the end of the day,” he pointed out, “the Senate parliamentarian is an employee of the Senate. Virtually every Republican campaigned promising full repeal.”
In the meantime, The Hill is stirring the pot with a new article quoting unnamed “aides” who think leaders may strip out the Planned Parenthood provision to spare Republicans the headache. Of course, no one knows who these aides are or even if they’re on leadership staff. In our Senate meetings, we’ve been assured that Republicans are sticking with the plan to cancel Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer checks.
Even Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) pushed back on the rumors, insisting that the GOP has had “ongoing discussions” about zeroing out Planned Parenthood’s funding for the year. “I’m not aware of any conclusion that’s been reached on that.” If anything, the Senate may be expanding on the House bill to include deeper cuts to ObamaCare. Encourage them to hold their ground on both! Contact your senators and ask them to get taxpayers out of the abortion business — in health care and beyond!
Knee-Jerk Retraction on Military Study
Well, that didn’t take long. A handful of days after publishing an explosive study exposing male-on-male assault in the military, the American Psychological Association (APA) has suddenly retracted the article. Claiming its methodology was flawed, the APA stunned everyone by issuing a press release apologizing for the piece, which suggested that the Pentagon was grossly underreporting male-on-male sexual assault. Sean Sheppard, the University of Utah author, found data linking the military to incidents of same-sex rape and abuse as much as 15 times higher than the Defense Department’s own surveys.
Now, in what seems to be a cover-up of the cover-up, the APA’s publisher is racing to recant. “Although the article went through our standard peer-review process, other scholars have since examined the data and raised valid concerns regarding the design and statistical analysis, which compromise the findings.” Coincidence? People familiar with the military don’t think so.
For years, the Obama White House has been desperate to push back against the narrative that its radical policies have led to a dangerous sexual climate in the ranks. The Pentagon’s own numbers, which were eye-popping even before the APA’s analysis, certainly didn’t help matters. Now, frantic to explain the spike in the post-“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era, who knows what political pressure was applied to the APA? In an administration of missing emails, crashed hard drives, and disavowed research, something is fishy in Washington. Even more suspicious, the APA isn’t rescinding its other 11 studies on military assault — just the one involving same-sex violations.
Former FRCer Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis (U.S. Army-Ret.) thinks the Pentagon’s PC culture is partially to blame. Government officials are chasing “the political winds for their own survival,” he told us. “I understand homosexual behavior stats are suppressed and or completely ignored because of the political pressure. Commanders are fearful about declaring the facts so they do their best to ignore allegations of male-on-male as well as female-on-female aggression. Consider the Department’s decision to declare homosexuality a protected class in the military — that’s quite a message given where we were 20 years ago and during World War II same-sex behavior was justification for discharge.”
With a decision on open transgenderism barreling down the tracks, the administration can’t afford more negative publicity about where its sexual extremism is leading. Of course, this is exactly what military chiefs predicted in 2010 when Congress ignored their advice and rolled out the welcome mat for gays and lesbians. A half-decade later, with military disapproval of Obama, job dissatisfaction, suicides, and sexual assaults at their highest points ever, “we told you so” isn’t a message this administration wants to hear.
The Marine Corps: 240 Years Young!
[Yesterday was] the 240th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. Most of those who have — or are — wearing the eagle, globe, and fouled anchor are God-fearing patriots who love America and what this country has stood for. Unlike some of our nation’s top political leaders, we honor the Constitution that we swore an oath to defend against all enemies foreign and domestic. Some of our fellow Marines have given their all to fulfill that oath, and we honor them by committing that their sacrifice will not be in vain. While many Marines may no longer don the uniform or carry the rifle, they remain committed to defending the Constitution and upholding the honor of the few and the proud. To all my fellow Marines who still believe this country is worth fighting for — SEMPER FIDELIS!
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.