You can always count on Republicans to take an issue that's gaining traction and starting to scare Democrats in Washington (like, say, the manufactured outrage over Planned Parenthood) and find a way to seriously screw it up.
Calling next week’s Senate roll call to defund Planned Parenthood a “legislative show vote,” GOP firebrand Ted Cruz said Republicans should do everything they can to eliminate federal money for the group — even if it means a government shutdown fight this fall.
He’s not alone. On Wednesday afternoon, 18 House Republicans told leadership that they “cannot and will not support any funding resolution … that contains any funding for Planned Parenthood.” Meanwhile, GOP social conservatives like Sens. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Jeff Sessions of Alabama said they’d consider supporting an effort to attach a spending rider that would eliminate Planned Parenthood’s $528 million in annual government funding to must-pass spending legislation this fall.
It’s a potentially ominous sign for GOP leaders desperate to avoid another shutdown debacle. While Cruz may be radioactive in the Senate GOP conference after calling his leader a liar, his analysis of next week’s vote has merit: With Democrats vowing to block the measure, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) won’t be able to get the 60 votes he needs to advance the bill next week, a result that likely won’t satisfy a conservative base itching for confrontation over abortion.
In a Wednesday interview, Cruz said the GOP should go as hard as it can to block funding for Planned Parenthood, including the same strategy he tried to use to defund Obamacare in 2013: force the issue by blocking funding in a government spending bill that must pass by Sept. 30.
Asked whether he would support such a maneuver again, Cruz replied: “I would support any and all legislative efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. We do not need a legislative show-vote.”
Cruz may have made an idiot out of himself and shut the government down in 2013, but Republicans didn't pay anything close to an actual price, gaining the Senate and a bunch of House seats in the 2014 midterms.
But the 2016 presidential election is a different animal, and if Ted Cruz shuts down the government over Planned Parenthood, he's playing right into Hillary Clinton's hands.
So go for it, Republicans! Make headlines for all those campaign commercials for the rest of the election cycle.
Hell, we might even win because of him.