Republicans threatening to shut down government over doctored Planned Parenthood videos

Riding a nonexistent wave of public outrage over videos that have been edited to appear to show Planned Parenthood employees discussing how to profit from abortion procedures, Republicans in Congress are aggressively pushing for all federal funding to be pulled from the organization.

And they want Congress to do “everything within its power” to make it happen, including blocking all appropriations and omnibus bills until they have gotten what they want, shutting down the government if necessary.

Of course, defunding Planned Parenthood isn’t as easy as cutting a line from a spending bill. The funding it receives from the federal government comes almost entirely in the form of Medicaid reimbursements that they receive for providing preventative care, i.e. not abortions. So when Republicans say, as John McCain did yesterday, that it’s deeply concerning for the federal government to be financing the fetal tissue donation discussed in the sting videos, he’s deliberately misleading the public. The government already doesn’t fund it.

Also, as Wonkette reminded us today, John McCain and Mitch McConnell — along with 91 other senators — voted to legalize fetal tissue donation research in 1993. So it’s particularly rich for them to be performing outrage over the practice today.

Planned Parenthood, via Fibonacci Blue / Flickr

Planned Parenthood, via Fibonacci Blue / Flickr

But never mind that. A vote has been scheduled for next week on a bill that would cut all federal funds from Planned Parenthood. That vote will fail. Republicans will be honor-bound to continue their quixotic freakout. More votes will be forced. They will all fail. Uber-conservative Republicans — some of whom aren’t even in Congress — will write impassioned emails to their constituents asking them to send $5 to help them continue the fight for the unborn. Many people will send $5. Republicans will keep fighting. And so on.

In other words, get ready for another shutdown fight over a non-issue in what was supposed to be a congressional session in which Republicans proved that they could govern like big kids.

As I wrote when the first Planned Parenthood sting video was released, it’s fairly obvious that Congressional Republicans have coordinated their efforts around the release of the videos to score as many political points as they can. But given how clearly doomed this push to defund the organization is, and how few political points they have scored — the public still opposes pulling federal funding from Planned Parenthood by a wide margin — it’s clear that this is a fundraising issue for the Republicans and nothing more.

But they’re going to play around with the government’s basic functions for a while before they’re done. Because that’s how the big kids govern.

UPDATE: Rand Paul is making a big fundraising push over the defund vote:

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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