*Congressional Republicans are aiming to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood early next year, according to GOP sources on and off the Hill, as social conservatives press for a milestone win under Donald Trump’s presidency after years of thwarted attempts to defund the health care group.
Although the Senate passed a budget bill in late 2015 that eliminated federal money for Planned Parenthood and also repealed Obamacare, President Barack Obama vetoed the measure in early January. But with Trump in the White House next year, conservatives say it’s just a matter of time before a defunding bill becomes law.
“The entire movement is poised for a victory,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, an advocacy group that opposes abortion. “We have every assurance [from congressional leaders] that it’s going to happen. Nobody is saying ‘whether,’ the question is ‘when.’”
If successful, this latest push would be the single biggest victory for anti-abortion groups in years, and likely the first step in a broader agenda aimed at sharply curtailing abortion procedures. Federal law already bars Planned Parenthood from using taxpayer funds for abortions; the group uses the money for family planning and other health services. But anti-abortion groups insist the funding facilitates abortion by freeing up other funds for abortion services.
After Planned Parenthood, advocates are expected to take aim at banning abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy and making the Hyde amendment — which bans the use of federal money for abortions — permanent. But even with Republicans in control of all the levers of government, those goals face much longer odds. At the same time, they’re going to be marshaling forces to help ensure the confirmation of a conservative Supreme Court justice to replace Antonin Scalia, who died in February.*